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Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-Kun Anime Review

I just finished watching all 12 episodes of Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-Kun. I can’t remember who recommended that I watch this, a year or more ago, and I just now got around to it.

My overall feeling is it’s a cute and short kind of mindless fun comedy anime, with a little bit of romance that never ever really ever goes anywhere.

It is left with a little bit of an open ending. This post might have spoilers.

Here’s a quick spoiler free score card before I dive into the reasons for my score. read more

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Love Live All Stars Anime Rhythm Game

The sequel to KLab’s smash hit Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live All Stars takes it to the next level with fully animated Live2D characters that dance around on the screen.

Like its predecessor, Love Live School Idol Festival, Love Live All Stars is a card collecting rhythm game with cute anime girls to collect.

The new installment in Love Live has a few key differences from the original, most notably is the animation. There’s also costumes you can unlock for your girls to wear and a new voltage gameplay system that allows you to score more points. read more

Studio Ghibli Spirited Away
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Every Studio Ghibli Film Ranked From Best to Worst – Top 10 Studio Ghibli Films – The Best Studio Ghibli Films – The Worst Studio Ghibli Films

studio ghibli couple GIF

Much like our recent list of the best and worst Disney films, here is a list of the best and worst Studio Ghibli films. Disney owned distribution rights for awhile for several Studio Ghibli films, but I think that has since changed hands to Gkids. Many people who love Disney films also love Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli Films; after all, they have a lot in common with each other. Both studios rely mostly on making films from well known children’s literature and fairytales. Both studios have a very recognizable animation style. And both studios excel at creating stories that the whole family can enjoy together, cartoons that appeal to young and old alike.

I was surprised there’s not as many Studio Ghibli films as I would think. If you’re wondering why Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is not on this list, that’s because it’s not actually made by Studio Ghibli. This actually gives me an idea for another blog post maybe something along the lines of “10 Anime Movies You Mistake for Studio Ghibli Films.” I can think of 3 or 4 right away without much effort. Nausicaa being the biggest “WTF, Really?!” moment of the bunch. There’s also Wolf Children, My Summer with Coo, Nadia The Secret of Blue Water, and a Letter to Momo which all seem to share Studio Ghibli’s art and story styles. More recently there’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower which I’ve yet to watch but am really looking forward to because of the “Ghibli Vibe”.  Although different in style, you might also mistake other recently successful anime films such as Ko no Katachi and Kimi no Nawa as Ghibli films because when most people think of successful feature length anime films, they immediately think of Studio Ghibli.  I’m also surprised there’s still quite a few legit Studio Ghibli films which I have yet to watch – I will include those at the end of this article. As there’s only a handful of them, I plan to try to watch them and come back and edit my rankings asap.

Here are my picks for best and worst Studio Ghibli films – what are some of your favorite and least favorite Ghibli films? Leave a comment below!

Best and Worst Studio Ghibli Films:

Ponyo

Ponyo is sorta Ghibli’s Take on the whole Little Mermaid thing. It’s a very original and creative take on it, with a lot of imagination and charm. Its charm and originality are what lands it at first place on my list of favorite Ghibli films. Ponyo is a fish like creature who gets caught by a young boy, Souske, who keeps her as a pet. She begins to fall in love with her new master, and as she grows, she becomes more and more human-like. Her transformation causes an inbalance in the sea which creates a Tsunami. Ponyo and Souske must work together to save their village from the Tsunami, which also tests their love for one another, If they can find unconditional love, Ponyo will be able to remain a human with Souske, or else she must return back to the sea. – If you also love Ponyo, check out Lu over the Wall which I reviewed here. It’s very similar and also very cute!

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service is definitely high on my list of favorite Studio Ghibli movies. It features a strong female lead, Kiki, a young witch who is leaving home for the first time, as is customary for young witches when they “come of age” (which is at just 13 years old). Each town can only have 1 witch, and Kiki must strike out to find her own place in the world – quite literally. Taking only her father’s radio, Mother’s Broomstick, and Jiji, her black cat, she sets out on a grand adventure. She struggles at first, an allegory to how we all must struggle to find OUR place in the world. This makes the film so relateable, and the characters are so likeable, that who can’t help but to just love Kiki’s Delivery Service? – Did you know that Kiki’s Delivery Service is actually based on a book by the same name? You can grab the book over on Amazon. It’s out of print and expensive now sadly. https://www.amazon.com/Kikis-Delivery-Service-Eiko-Kadono/dp/1550377884

Spirited Away

This is one of Studio Ghibli’s best known, and most well loved, featured films. It was the first anime to ever win an Academy Award for Best animated Feature Film. I believe to date, it’s the only Japanese anime to have ever won this award. It beat out numerous other animated films that same year including Disney and Dreamworks. It’s the highest grossing film of all time in Japan, and even beat out Titanic. In 2016 it was voted as the 4th best film of the 21st century which made it the highest animated film on the list as chosen from more than 170 film critics from around the world.

Just because something wins lots of awards though does not necessarily make it a great film — but Spirited Away does indeed fall into the category of greatness. I feel that the success of Spirited Away is due largely in part to the emotional attachment the audience develops towards the young pure hearted characters, as well as the fantasy setting, which is set in a realm of spirits that’s mysterious enough to be edgy/creepy for older kids/adults, while not terrifying like Mononoke, and attention to detail through story writing, the excellent music score, animation, and voice acting.

When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There is also based on a book by the same name. https://www.amazon.com/Marnie-There-Essential-Modern-Classics-ebook/dp/B00KA11ZI0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=&dpID=51FrFUXIjEL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=detail This Studio Ghibli adaptation rates higher for me than it does for most other people because I love my grandma so much, which made the bond that the main character shares with her own grandma overwhelmingly sweet and sentimental to me. Everyone loves their grandmas right? But mine is literally like my favorite person in the whole world. So this film really hit me right in the heart. I could watch it over and over and probably still cry each time. Love the song at the end of the credits too. I related a lot to the main character too who is always alone / lonely as I was similar to that growing up. She’s also interested in art like myself, and has a great imagination. Really, just on a personal level, out of all Ghibli films, this one is by far the most relatable to me, even though it’s still a fantasy movie about a ghost :).

Howl’s Moving Castle

Obviously, Howl’s Moving Castle is based on the very well known series of books by the same name https://www.amazon.com/Howls-Moving-Castle-Diana-Wynne/dp/1442008431 – Though only very, very, very loosely based on this source material… In the original book, Sophie is very sarcastic and independent – She literally doesn’t give a flip about anyone or anything. In both versions they are pessimistic and feel they have no control over their fate, but in the book that quickly changes, and we witness Sophie become more responsible for her own actions and feelings. Sophie in the book also discovers pretty early on that she has magic powers. Howl in the book is a total playboy. There’s no war in the book. The villains are different too. In the book the main villain is the Witch of the Waste who is scorned by Howl rejecting her romantically and is looking to create her ideal mate by piecing together several different men, including the missing prince and Howl’s pretty face. Some find the book to be very funny, while others find it to be dry, because British humor is often very dry indeed. The idealistic love between Sophie and Howl in the film is quite different in the book. The two argue and break up and make up over and over throughout the story. The biggest difference is definitely in the titular character of Howl. In the book we see much more of Howl. Early on in the book it is difficult to like or sympathize for him as he is so vain and breaks so many hearts. But as the story unfolds, we learn the truth is that he is afraid of letting others close to him because he is in fact very sensitive and fragile and a very warm and loving person as well, and instantly we learn to not judge others, Everyone is going through their own struggles in life, and both Howl and Sophie have a lot of demons inside of themselves that they must face, which sadly is a lesson that the film doesn’t care to impart to the audience. In the film Howl instead is scarcely seen as he flies off to fight wars that don’t exist in the book. In the book, he is from modern day Wales, and has found a door to Sophie’s time and world where he has chosen to stay to study magic. This time traveling is completely omitted from the film, just as is equally omitted Sophie’s magical abilities. Instead, in Miyazaki’s version, it is Sophie who we see “time traveling” as she learns about Howl’s past. Miyazaki’s goal was to create a film that shows how love makes life worth living, while the original author’s goal was to create a story about a strong willed female mage which challenged gender and societal stereotypes. Both stories are equally charming in their own unique ways. Miyazaki’s interpretation of Howl’s Moving Castle is romantic and full of charm and innocence and still quite engaging in its storytelling and plot devices. There are some who complain that too many liberties were taken which deviated from the author’s original work, but one could also argue the same is true of Ponyo which is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid or any number of Ghibli or Disney works that are based on books before becoming films.

Whisper of the Heart

This is a lesser known Ghibli film based on manga of the same name about a young girl whose only passion is reading, and a young boy whose only passion is music. They are both outcasts and self isolated because they pour 100% of their time into their chosen hobbies. Both wish to drop out of school to pursue their passions full time. And neither one of them really get along with each other when the film first starts out. What I really enjoyed about this film is watching the characters change their thoughts and beliefs, about their passions, but also about how they perceive other people. They also discover they have a lot in common and both help to inspire one another to chase their dreams. Initially they view other people or other responsibilities as a hindrance, taking away time from their passions. But they learn that instead, other people add to your experiences and make life sweeter. Both characters yearn to grow up and become adults, but both are only grade/middle school students. They have a lot to learn. And as the film ends, we watch just how much they’ve matured over their summer. They learn to make time and space in their lives and hearts for other people while still each holding tightly to their dreams of their future. The original manga has not been licensed for US release. There is also a sequel manga that follows the characters as they prepare for their college entrance exams. https://mangarock.com/search?q=Mimi%20wo%20Sumaseba

Grave of the Fireflies

This film is sad AF!!! There are some who will not like this film because of it being so sad. And also others who will not like this film simply because it portrays the real life events of the bombing of Hiroshima. Japan is the only country to have been nuked by an atomic bomb and the US the only country to have released an atomic bomb. Never again has such a weapon been used in combat because of the devastating long term and long range consequences that spring about from such frightening weaponry. This movie depicts the suffering and harsh realities of the war and subsequent bombing of Hiroshima. Obviously, war and decisions made by a country’s government, is a very politically charged issue. And many lives were lost on both sides of the war. So much suffering occurred that it’s still a tense and delicate subject to people on both sides of the war still today even in modern times. It is hard to watch this film, and even harder to see their suffering, and know that “we” (as a nation / group of nations) caused that suffering) even if it was perhaps necessary at the time of these events. It still doesn’t make you feel good realizing what you’ve unleashed. I’ve seen documentaries with actual real life footage of the victims, I’ve seen them peeling burnt flesh from survivors’ bodies using chopsticks, I’ve seen footage of their shadows burned into the walls, shadows of children playing at playgrounds, shadows of mothers trying to protect their children in their arms. But I’ve also seen movies on the other side of the issue too – Many US lives were lost in the bombing of pearl harbor; many other lives were lost around the entire world from Hitler’s atrocities, and so on. In war there is no clear cut good / bad decisions. You do what you feel you have to do to protect your country and its people, and in bombing Hiroshima, the US was trying to do just that, although it tragically resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Japanese civilians… such as the two depicted in this Studio Ghibli film… We watch them live fearfully, and with not enough food to eat, without any parents to take care of them, and we watch them suffer, fall ill, and struggle at every turn. We watch their own family and friends turn their backs on helping them and realize they have nowhere to go or turn to – an important – although equally political – message in our own modern times with issues with refugees and so on from our modern day wars. To quote the videogame Fallout “War Never Changes” – that’s why a film about a decades old war is still compelling and relevant and relatable in modern times. One of the interesting things about this film, is gaining a new perspective on the war and circumstances around the war. Sympathizing with our “enemy” and seeing just how similar we are, despite hundreds or thousands of cultural differences, at the end of the day, we each love our families, and would do anything to see to it that our families are happy, healthy, safe, and cared for. There is no way to watch this film without crying and forming an emotional connection with the characters. The ability to evoke such deep emotion is a testament to the quality of this film. It is an artful masterpiece with fantastic writing, character development, and storytelling.

Laputa Castle in the Sky

I just watched this movie last year as part of Studio Ghibli’s and Gkids Ghibli Fest which brought many great Ghibli films to the theater – some for the first time in theaters within the US. I loved this movie. It had great action and a great love story. A lot of things in this film reminded me of my favorite Videogame, Lunar Eternal Blue which I reviewed here and cosplayed as here. Maybe it’s the girl and her pendant, her mysterious origins/past, her dramatic entrance, or the floating city in the sky, or maybe it’s the awesome epic love story. The lengths that both male characters go to in order to protect the person they love – and to help the girl they love complete her mission, or the way in which both film and game are so rich in lore and history and create a strange mashup of fantasy and technology creating a timeless story, that feels like it could take place equally conceivably in past, present, or future. Laputa Castle in the Sky is very action packed and fast moving, but yet, since it centers on these two characters and their love for one another, it can capture audiences of any age or gender.

The Cat Returns

This is a sequel or Spin off based on Ghibli’s earlier film, Whisper of the Heart. I enjoyed Whisper of the Heart more than the Cat Returns, despite my huge massive never ending love for cats. Unlike the author’s own sequel to her manga, this story is not related to the two main characters of Whisper of the Heart, but instead focuses on the story that was inspired by the cat-like doll, nicknamed Baron as he searches for his lost love Louise, who was taken from him by Muto. Despite the name of the film, and it actually really being a sequel, the title is still slightly confusing. A better English title would have been something along the lines of “The Cat’s Reciprocation” or “The Cat Returns the Favor” but that doesn’t really have the same “ring” to it. Perhaps the perfect title should have been “The Cat’s Reply” which could not only mean to “return the favor” but also foreshadow Haru’s ability to speak with cats. Haru saves a cat one day, who wants to return the favor by offering her the prince’s hand – err paw — in marriage. Haru is flustered both by the cat’s proposal and his ability to talk. Cats around her begin acting strangely, bringing her gifts and tokens of the prince’s affection. Haru is cat-napped and taken to the world of cats where she is pampered and treated like a queen. She is given feasts and entertainment and more lavish gifts. As she begins to enjoy her time in the cat world, she begins to turn into a cat. The Baron warns Haru that she will become a real cat, and forget her human self if she does not immediately leave the cat world. The king and prince orchestrate obstacles and distractions to lengthen Haru’s stay in the cat kingdom, knowing that once she is fully a cat, she will become the Prince’s Bride. Will Haru forget her true self and live happily among the cats? Or will she escape and reclaim her place among the humans? Many people think this film is based on the Manga by the same author of Whisper of the Heart, but actually the Ghibli film came first, and the author enjoyed it so much that she made a manga based on the film – kinda neat, right? 🙂 Usually it’s the other way around.

The Secret World of Arietty

Studio Ghibli’s “The Secret World of Arietty” is based on a popular children’s book, The Borrowers by Mary Norton. This book has entertained children for several generations. But it’s also a book (and film) that can be enjoyed by the whole family, young or old alike. My grandmother told me that it is her favorite book, she told me she first read it when my mother checked it out of the library. I too read the book when I was younger, and I also enjoyed many other film and tv adaptations and similar books and movies and tv series such as The Littles and The Indian in the Cupboard.

The Borrowers and The Secret World of Arietty give you a glimpse at a hidden world right under our noses. The Borrowers are a tiny race of miniature humans who live in our walls and gardens and live off of things we waste or take for granted. If you ever notice a button or a needle is missing, you can bet it’s been “Borrowed”. Of course the human world presents many dangers to Arietty, she must be careful to not be discovered by the humans who could capture her and keep her as a pet or science experiment. At the same time she must be aware of her surroundings at all times. She could get swept away by just a small trickle of water, or mistaken for a mouse and gobbled up by a cat, or crushed underfoot by a horse and carriage. Arietty is of course not afraid of the human world, and instead intrigued by it. She finds the human world fascinating and impossible to resist. Especially when she meets and falls in love with a human boy who is equally fascinated by Arietty’s world. The story teaches us that even though our lives may seem dull and mundane, that all it takes is a change of perspective to be reminded how wondrous life truly is.

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Ghibli used an unusual art style in this anime, making it quite different from any of their other films. Their intention was to create an anime that looked like ancient Japanese calligraphy paintings and wall scrolls. The tale of Princess Kaguya was unfamiliar to me, but very familiar and loved in its home country of Japan where it is known as the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. This legend has been around for over 1,000 years! It is most famously presented and passed down through ancient Japanese paintings from the Edo period which is what influenced Ghibli’s character and art direction in this film.

I’m not a huge fan of the art style in the anime, and even some of the customs/traditions of the Edo period which the film accurately depicts like women painting their teeth black – SO eww. Interestingly, little has changed as I know even now it’s generally considered to be “unlady-like” for a woman or girl to smile widely thus showing her teeth. That’s why there’s two emoji’s ^.^ and ^_^ – the first one is a feminine emoji and the second is a masculine emoji. I learned that years ago when I used to chat with people all over the world and was told about my “improper” use of the “^_^” emoji. Although I still use ^_^ all the time, and I consider “^.^” to be more of a “playful” smile, sorta cattish or impish or mischievious, or maybe a smile that seems like it has a secret, a smirk or a giggle behind it, where as I feel ^_^ is just pure joy/happiness/amusement/laughter.

Anyways enough about Emoji’s – lol. The strange art style and questionable fashions/traditions of the Edo period are really the only reason this film doesn’t rank higher for me. I do agree that the film looks just like the historical paintings… but it’s just not my tastes personally… That said though, I am extremely fascinated by the story and legend behind this film.

The legend states that an old man unable to have children of his own, found Kaguya one day while cutting bamboo. When she first appeared she was only the size of his thumb, but she rapidly grew much faster than other children. The bamboo cutter took the baby to his wife, where they raised her lovingly as their own child. Ever since Kaguya appeared in their lives, every time the Bamboo cutter would go to work, he would find gold coins in the bamboo stalks and soon the family become very rich. Although initially the family wishes to protect Kaguya’s innocence and youth, it is not long before word spreads of the beautiful young woman and many princes appear to seek her hand in marriage. Kaguya tasks each prince with impossible tasks, knowing they cannot be achieved, because she wishes to remain with her family and maintain her independence. One by one each prince fails to win the hand of Kaguya. Time passes, and eventually the Emperor comes to see the beautiful Kaguya. He falls in love instantly, but Kaguya tells him they cannot be together because she is not from his country. They instead become friends and remain in correspondence. As time went on, Kaguya began acting strangely, especially on nights with a full moon. She would cry and cause her parents to worry. She later reveals to them that she is not from Earth and must return to her home on the moon. The Emperor, as well as her family, do everything they can to try to hide and protect Kaguya who does not wish to return to the Moon. Kaguya wants to remain on Earth. In the end, however, Kaguya must go back to the kingdom of the Moon and leave her beloved family and friends.

Studio Ghibli’s version of the tale differs in some areas – The Emperor in the Ghibli version is more obsessed with Kaguya and Kaguya wants absolutely none of it because she’s in love with a simple boy from her childhood whom her father deems is not of high enough rank for her hand (who never existed in the original legend). In fact she is so repulsed by the Emperor that she cries when he touches her and discovers she has a secret ability to disappear at will. These details were made up for the Ghibli version only. Also at the end of the Ghibli version, Kaguya looks back onto the earth with a longing and sad gaze, even though her robe of feathers was to strip her of all of her memories of her time spent on Earth, the look on her face implies that her feelings and attachments were so strong that she could not forget the people of Earth. – This also is made up in the Ghibli version. In the original legend, Kaguya does in fact forget everyone when she returns to the Moon. In the original legend, the Emperor is so saddened by Kaguya’s death (or disappearance whatever you want to call it) that he orders his army to climb to the top of the mountain “closest to heaven” – There he wishes to burn a letter from Kaguya in hopes that his love and feelings for her will rise with the smoke from the letter and reach her on the moon. He also wanted to burn the elixir of immortality that Kaguya left him because he did not want to live forever without Kaguya by his side. Wikipedia states that the Japanese word for immortality “Fushi” is what Mt. Fuji’s name was derived from. And that the kanji characters for the mountain mean “Mountain abounding with warriors” which is said to denote the Emperor’s army who burnt the letter. The legend also says that the smoke from the letter still rises today (when the legend was created, Mt Fuji was an active volcano and hence produced smoke). I think the original legend makes for a very beautiful unrequited love story, where in Ghibli’s version the Emperor is the main villain whose appearance is what drives Kaguya to pray to the moon for help, after which her people come to “rescue” her from the Emperor. Quite a different take on the tale. I know Japan’s long history and traditions with their Emperor’s being near godlike status, so it’s odd to see a film from Japan depict in Emperor as a villainous character, especially given that in the original tale he was so pure and chivalrous and so in platonic unrequited love / mutual friendship with Kaguya throughout much of their lives.

I can’t remember where I read it now, (I’ve tried searching) but I read a few years ago that there are many scholars who believe that the legend of the Swan Princess / the Swan Lake Ballet is derived from the much older Legend of Kaguya. The main themes are very similar. This wikipedia article gives you a glimpse at the “Legend” of the Swan Princess The “Legend” is apparently much older than the ballet itself.

Here are a few of the similarities:

In these “Swan Maiden” tales, an unmarried man steals a robe of swan feathers from a woman in order to keep her from “flying away” – The maiden then bears children by this man. At some point the children come across the robe their father has hidden, or they ask their mother why she is always crying and go find the robe for her. As soon as she is given her robe she ascends to heaven without any hesitation or thought or attachment for her family or life as a human. Regarding those she leaves behind, wikipedia says this: “Although the children may grieve her, she does not take them with her. If the husband is able to find her again, it is an arduous quest, and often the impossibility is clear enough so that he does not even try.”

Kaguya is pursued by many unmarried men. She is given her robe of feathers when she ascends to the moon, and thus this ascending into the sky, can also be like “flying away”

Kaguya begins crying “always” uncontrollably near the end of her tale and her family always asks her what’s wrong / show concern for her.

Kaguya is given a robe of feathers which allows her to forget her time with her human family and friends so that she has no attachment or regrets leaving them (obviously Ghibli changed this part with one final glance back to Earth from their version of Princess Kaguya)

Kaguya’s family does grieve her but she cannot take them with her.

Kaguya tasks her “would-be” husbands with impossible quests – Even the Emperor himself cannot win Kaguya’s hand. After her disappearance, he sets out on his own arduous quest in the legend which would become the legend and folklore around Mount Fuji. 

The wikipedia article also states that “The swan maiden has appeared in numerous items of fiction, including the ballet Swan Lake, in which a young princess, Odette and her maidens are under the spell of an evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart, transforming them into swans by day. By night, they regain their human forms and can only be rescued if a young man swears eternal love and faithfulness to the Princess. When Prince Siegfried swears his love for Odette, the spell can be broken, but Siegfried is tricked into declaring his love for Von Rothbart’s daughter, Odile, disguised by magic as Odette, and all seems lost. But the spell is finally broken when Siegfried and Odette drown themselves in a lake of tears, uniting them in death for all eternity. While the ballet’s revival of 1895 depicted the swan-maidens as mortal women cursed to turn into swans, the original libretto of 1877 depicted them as true swan-maidens: fairies who could transform into swans at will.”

Kaguya has a special relationship to the Moon (symbol of the night).

The Emperor loved Kaguya (not as apparent in the Ghibli film, but VERY apparent in the original legend where he burns the letter and the elixir of life.)

In burning the elixir of life, he gives up immortality so that he can (one day) rejoin Kaguya in death.  

The Lake of Tears could signify how the Emperor wept for Kaguya (or in Ghibli’s case how her parents wept for her). 

The ability to transform into swans at will could be inspired by Kaguya’s ability to disappear at will. 

There is another tale from Japan with themes similar to Princess Kaguya, Tsuru no Ongaeshi, or the Crane Wife, about a crane who is caught in a trap. She is set free by an elderly couple and to repay their kindness she arrives as a human child, claiming to be lost. She asks them if they would take care of her as their own daughter, and the elderly couple happily agrees. To repay them for their kindness she begins to weave beautiful fabrics which she makes by plucking her own feathers. The fabrics sell for a lot of money and make the family very wealthy. She warns them they must never look in the room as she weaves. But overtime, curiosity overcomes the couple and they steal a glimpse only to find a crane and not a human in the room. With her identity revealed, she tells the couple she had hoped to always  remain their daughter, but she must now return to being a crane. In other versions of this legend, it is not a couple, but a young man who saves the crane disguised as a human. The two soon fall in love. In some versions he is sick and so the crane plucks her own feathers to make the fabric to sell for money to get medicine to save her husband. In other versions the husband is alive and well, but the crane becomes increasingly ill as she continues to pluck her feathers. As she plucks her last feather she must return to being a crane and leave her husband behind as the husband vows he will never forget her.

(source: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsuru_no_Ongaeshi)

The legend of Kaguya predates the legend of Tsuru no Ongaeshi. You can already see how the folk lore was shifting but still similar to the original tale of Kaguya. From here, the similarities between Kaguya and Swan’s lake are even more apparent.

Obviously both Swan Lake and Tsuru no Ongaeshi feature a bird who has turned human.

Swan Lake’s maiden has lost a robe of feathers, while the Crane Wife has lost her feathers while making robes.

In relation to Kaguya, Once their true identities are uncovered they both must return to their former selves/worlds.

Also in relation to Kaguya, the main character is raised by or falls in love with humans – she then asks them to raise her as their own child. When she is leaving she tells them she never wanted to leave and always wanted to remain their child, but that she has no choice now. In the version with the husband, his vow of never forgetting her, could be similar to the Emperor’s love for Kaguya in the original legend and the lengths he went to even after her death or disappearance to prove his love and rejoin her in death.

As you can see, I had the most to say about Kaguya, despite it not being my favorite Ghibli film, but because of the interesting ancient legend on which it, and many other fairy tales, are based. The Legend of Kaguya predates all other tellings of similar nature which makes it even more interesting from a historical point of view.

Princess Mononoke

I dunno, Princess Mononoke honestly scares the hell out of me… Even looking at this gif scares the hell out of me… This movie is so unsettling… and it’s even “worse” dubbed – because then the lip syncing is all off and then it’s just even more eerie AF…. I think Princess Mononoke definitely has a good story… and it is no doubt beautiful…. and probably Ghibli’s most successful / well known film – I own it, I “like” it (even though it honestly gives me nightmares) – but damn son…. this movie just ain’t right lol…. Am I the only one that finds this movie just INHERENTLY creepy? It’s not even the infamously excessive amounts of blood and violence… it’s little things like this creepy-ass mother bugger right here….

Only Yesterday

I thought this was a little bit of a bore. I generally love slice of life and romance films. I’m not sure why this one missed the mark for me. The story is told by a middle aged woman as she looks back on her childhood / early adulthood and reminisces about summers and her first love. Even though the majority of the film felt a little slow – I really really really really REALLY loved the later parts of the film — Especially the ending — One of the most memorable endings of any Ghibli film — or any film — ever. So good. I think overall though, the story suffers from some pacing issues and the constant back and forth from memories/present day. There are cute parts, sweet parts, dramatic parts, but in some ways it just felt like it dragged and droned on and on… That ending though… so emotional!! Loved it.

My Neighbor Totoro

If you care to read more about My Neighbor Totoro – I did a review after attending the Gkids theatrical release last year. Read my Review of My Neighbor Totoro here. read more

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Artbook Review: The Art of The Secret World of Arietty

Studio Ghibli The Art of The Secret World of Arietty Artbook
Studio Ghibli The Art of The Secret World of Arietty Artbook

I received this book for free in exchange for a review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

This large, beautiful hardcover artbook is a must have for any Hayao Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli fan. Within its pages lies a treasure trove of not only gorgeous artwork, but also a behind the scenes look at the work that went into creating The Secret World of Arietty. This book is very high quality. Its large oversize format makes it excellent for laying on your coffee table or bookshelf and its presentation is so inviting that your friends won’t be able to resist picking it up and scanning through the pages. Its an excellent conversation piece, as well as a great asset for a collector’s own private and personal collection.

With this review I struggled if I should include pictures, and if so how many, and which ones to include. I wanted you to see the beautiful artwork and the commentary from the artists at Studio Ghibli but I also wanted to not reveal too much as to avoid spoiling the surprise and excitement of reading the book for yourself. So I selected 3 or 4 images showing concept art and notes from the team. It’s also important to know there are many beautiful full color art pieces in the book as well, including some that spread across both pages. I just felt the concept art was far more interesting as we don’t get a glimpse of that by simply watching the film.

By far, my favorite part of the book is all of the commentary and interviews with the staff of Studio Ghibli. It’s easy enough to fill a picture book full of sketches and doodles, but what I really enjoyed was reading about how the film all came together, the various changes that were made to characters and settings within the anime, and getting a sense for what the artists feel about their finished creation. It was quite fascinating, especially reading it as someone working as a full time artist myself. I can really appreciate the team’s dedication and passion and I think that passion really shows through in the final product (both the film and this gorgeous artbook).

Studio Ghibli’s “The Secret World of Arietty” is based on a popular children’s book, The Borrowers by Mary Norton. This book has entertained children for several generations. But it’s also a book (and film) that can be enjoyed by the whole family, young or old alike. My grandmother told me that it is her favorite book, she told me she first read it when my mother checked it out of the library. I too read the book when I was younger, and I also enjoyed many other film and tv adaptations and similar books and movies and tv series such as The Littles and The Indian in the Cupboard.

The Borrowers and The Secret World of Arietty give you a glimpse at a hidden world right under our noses. The Borrowers are a tiny race of miniature humans who live in our walls and gardens and live off of things we waste or take for granted. If you ever notice a button or a needle is missing, you can bet it’s been “Borrowed”. Of course the human world presents many dangers to Arietty, she must be careful to not be discovered by the humans who could capture her and keep her as a pet or science experiment. At the same time she must be aware of her surroundings at all times. She could get swept away by just a small trickle of water, or mistaken for a mouse and gobbled up by a cat, or crushed underfoot by a horse and carriage. Arietty is of course not afraid of the human world, and instead intrigued by it. She finds the human world fascinating and impossible to resist. Especially when she meets and falls in love with a human boy who is equally fascinated by Arietty’s world. The story teaches us that even though our lives may seem dull and mundane, that all it takes is a change of perspective to be reminded how wondrous life truly is.

Just as life is wondrous and full of adventure, so too is the official artbook, “The Art of The Secret World of Arietty”.

You can buy “The Art of The Secret World of Arietty” Artbook here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/197470033X

Buy the Borrowers complete set of books here: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Adventures-Borrowers-Mary-Norton/dp/0152049150/

Buy the DVD or Blu-Ray of the Secret World of Arietty here: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-World-Arrietty-Two-Disc-Blu-ray/dp/B005LAIGXM

Pop in Q Anime Movie
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Pop in Q Anime Movie Review

Pop in Q
Pop in Q

Title: Pop in Q
Length: (approx) 1.5 hours, feature length film.
I hear there is a 2nd film in production as well that will finish telling the story. *hint: Keep watching after the credits of the first movie*
Genre: Shoujo, Magical Girl, Fantasy, Idol, Musical, Slice of Life, Drama
Studio: Toei Annimation
Release Date: December, 2016

Score Card:

Geeky 1/5 – There is a bit of action later in the film, also some nostalgia to anyone who grew up watching shows like Digimon. But largely, this is pure shoujo aimed at very young girls. Afterall the girls themselves are middleschool students in this film.

Sweetie: 5/5 – This anime is utterly adorable!!! The Popin look like Sanrio characters. The girls are young and have round faces and big eyes. The music is catchy. Idol culture is always kawaii AF. The backgrounds have a nice painterly style. And the story actually has some depth to it, especially towards the end and the small preview of the next film.

 

Story 9/10 The story is basically the same as nearly every shoujo series. Which isn’t a bad thing. A group of young girls who don’t believe in themselves (or other people), come together, find their own inner strength, and learn to trust each other and work together. The basic plot of Pop in Q surrounds 5 girls each with different regrets as they prepare to graduate from middle school. They escape to the magic world where they meet the Popins, loveable cute mascots who are responsible for the flow of time. The girls do not want to return to their own world until tragedy threatens both worlds and forces the girls to make some difficult decisions.

 

Characters: 10/10 – 10 out of 10 just for how cute they are. Plus I like how every girl is given ample screen time and has a rich back story. This reminded me a lot of sailor moon or magic knights rayearth, or to a lesser degree card captor sakura. It also has a hint of love live or aikatsu stars because of the idol elements. But the cutest thing of all are the Poppins!

 

Artwork: 4/5 I deducted 1 point because some of the 3D scenes are not animated that well. However, the character designs are so cute. The 2D parts are adorable, and the background environments have this lovely painterly style with heavy brush strokes. This creates a beautiful storybook like feeling.

 

Voice Acting: 4/5 – The voice acting is cute and suits each of the girls. The poppins also have cute voices. Only reason I didn’t give it a 5 was that it wasn’t that memorable.

Music: 5/5 – There are tons of vocal tracks, obviously as music plays a central role to this story. Luckily all of the music is quite catchy. I also liked the instrumental tracks, especially highlighting some sad and touching moments.

 

Overall: 38/45 84% B+ “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Lu Over the Wall
Anime Anime Review Fantasy Film and Television Kawaii Cute Kawaii Review Review Slice of Life TV and Film

Lu Over the Wall Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta Full Length Standalone Anime Movie Review

Title: Lu Over the Wall

Japanese Title: Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta

Genre: Slice of Life, Fantasy

Length: (Approximately) 2 hours feature length film (Also after the credits it says that Lu and Seiren will be back in “The Real Lu Dawn Greeting Song”) Maybe hinting at a 2nd movie (or TV series?) (or could just be a music video or musical or something else). Though the end seems unfinished and seems

Studio: Science Saru and Toho

Where to Watch: Gkids Licensed this anime a few weeks ago, and it seems from this page they are trying to generate interest for a US theatrical release. https://www.gkids.com/films/lu-over-the-wall/

Geeky: 2/5 – The animation is odd. Coloring is very “Flat” The faces are not very detailed and the clothing and character designs are a bit simplistic. – I’ve read that the creators wanted to go for a “pop art” style. It’s different from most anime. I don’t think it’s bad. Some of the character designs look like American comic strips in the sunday newspaper. The music and voice acting and story telling though more than make up for the unusual art direction. There’s not much if any action, but I still feel this is an anime that can be enjoyed by both guy and girl geeks.

Sweetie: 5/5 – This film made me cry, mostly from heart warming moments, although it also has its share of sad touching moments too. There are many cute and crazy characters, and the upbeat music and tempo of the anime make it very cute. If you like Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, I’m sure you will enjoy this as well!

Overall: 40/45 89% B+ “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Story: 10/10 – I loved the story in Lu Over the Wall. A village makes a living from fishing and making umbrellas. Legend tells us that mermaids roam the seas near the village and that they eat humans. Some of the elders of the village have even witnessed their loved ones being bitten and dragged into the sea by merfolks. It also says that music will lure the mermaids closer to the shores, so music is mostly forbidden. Our 3 heroes are highschool (or maybe middle school?) students who meet in secret to perform in a band. They aren’t very good, but they have fun. One day their music lures one such mermaid into their life. – Are the rumors really true that they eat humans? Or are the mermaids simply misunderstood? Some people want to respect and revere the mermaids in fear of a powerful curse. Others want to exploit the mermaids for profit thinking it will bring tourists and opportunities to their quiet village. What fate will befall the mermaids and the villagers? Will they come to understanding, or are they destined to be enemies?

Characters: 10/10 – The characters are very cute. There’s even merdogs in this film! Lu is adorable and child like and sweet.

Artwork: 3/5 – There are cute characters as mentioned above, but the art style is just so different from most mainstream anime that it is a bit distracting at times.

Music: 5/5 – There are a number of vocal and instrumental songs. My 2 favorites are Lu Dawn’s Greeting Song and the Song Kai sings to Lu at the end (not sure of the name).

Voice Acting: 5/5 – the voice actors in Lu Over the Wall put a lot of emotion into their performances, both when singing and acting.

Overall: 40/45 89% B+ “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Other Anime You May Like:

Ponyo

Nagi no Asukara (Review Here)

1975 Little Mermaid by Toei Animation

1980s Saban’s Adventures of the Little Mermaid

Beck Mongolion Chopsquad

Nana

Aishite Knight

Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch

Mermaid Scar

Mermaid Forest

Full Moon Wo Sagashite

Kodocha (Review Here)

Fancy Lala

Orenchi no Furo Jijō

My Bride is a Mermaid

Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san (Muromi-san)

Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto

windaria
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Windaria Anime Movie Review

Title: Windaria

Alternative Title: Once Upon a Time

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 1986 (Japan initial release), 1992 (US, (VHS) first US release), 2004 (US re-release (DVD) with title change)

Where to Watch: I don’t support piracy here, but as a heads up, ALL of the “US Releases” of this film are very severely edited. And YES, that includes even the subtitled versions! I highly recommend that you watch the original Japanese version at least once before passing judgement on this beautiful movie. Of course, I grew up with the VHS in the 90s, and I STILL loved even the heavily edited dubbed version of the film way back then. Last year, I finally got the chance to watch the original Japanese version. A lot of content was cut from the English version, including significant amounts of story content. They change the order of certain scenes, remove most of the violence (and drugs and sex) and have completely re-written the script of the original film to better suit an American audience (where cartoons were (and still are) primarily intended for children). Also all of the music is different in both versions, although it’s very good in both versions as well. Still the overall theme and plot and moral of this heart breaking anime remains the same in both versions. That’s why I really recommend you to try to watch the original film – and then still go ahead and buy the English DVD or VHS to support the creators :). I’m not going to tell you where to find the original online, but you can find it if you look. And then you can purchase the Windaria North American DVD here.

Geeky: 3/5 The music is beautiful, but the artwork is very outdated (losing 1 point). Interestingly enough, the Japanese DVD includes 2 versions of the film, 1 being a “pilot film” where the animation and coloring style is different. (I have never seen this version). Despite the outdated artwork, the character designs are cute and memorable, I often think someone working on Pokemon drew inspiration (perhaps even subconsciously) for fan-favorite Eevee from the little pet squirrel/cat like creature in this film. The story is dark and full of action (and sex and drugs and gore in the original Japanese version). Therefore I feel this film would appeal to all geeks regardless of their genders. I’m removing one more point for the heavy handed editing of all of the US versions of this film. It’s been almost 15 years since the film has been brought to American audiences (for a 2nd time) – so perhaps some day we will see a company pick up the license for this film and do it justice with a more faithful English adaptation.

Sweetie: 5/5 – The story is soul crushingly sad. If you like sad anime, this is for you. Both versions of the film, even the mangled US version(s), still show the tender love stories of the central characters, and demonstrate the costs of war and greed. I happen to be a fan of sad love stories, and this particular anime reminds me of almost a Romeo and Juliet type of fairy tale, 2 lovers who can never be together, and 2 other lovers who have everything but still manage to mess everything up in the end. It’s also a story of regret, love, and greed. It imparts morals to the viewer, to value the love you have or else it may slip away. And that even if you are poor, if you have love, you can be happy. Or you can overlook the happiness you have right in front of you and only realize what you have once it has slipped away. The emotionally engaging story is also heightened by a fantastic music score which further draws the audience into the film.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Story: 9/10 – I removed a point again for the poor handling of every commercially available North American release of this film. Otherthan that small complaint, I give the story 10/10. Even the badly edited version. I loved the anime back in the 90s, and I still love it today. It’s a tale that withstands the tests of time. Universally relateable to anyone who has loved and lost.

The story of Windaria intertwines the fates of 2 very different couples. One couple is a princess and prince from neighboring kingdoms. As tensions mount between the kingdoms, and war seems inevitable… Can their love survive? The other couple lives in a small farming village caught between both warring nations. Their village has remained neutral for years, but as war descends around them, can that peace last? The people of the neutral village are poor, but live happy lives not knowing the tragedies of war, and protected by spirits who live in a giant tree. But can people be influenced to take a side when wealth and adventure knock on their door? How will the war change the lives of the people in this tiny village?

Everything is connected, and you cannot escape war. You can’t remain neutral. You must make a decision and take a risk. What will you risk? Will you risk your life? Your love? Your Home? And how will the war change you? Can you return to your old life after the war ends? Will there even be anything left to return to?

Windaria examines all of these heavy hearted deep thinking questions.

The setting of the story is also very intriguing. We have 2 nations at war. The haves and have nots. One kingdom has plenty of water and wealth and prosperity. They control the flow of water to the neighboring nations. The other nation does not feel they have enough water. They are not nearly as wealthy or powerful as their political neighbor. The lands between the two nations are full of magic and mystery. There is a river where people go crazy and see horrors which are merely reflections of their own fears and feelings, there is the giant magic tree which protects the neighboring farming village, and there’s the ghost ship which takes souls to the other side.

Interestingly enough, although the setting and time of this anime appear to be fantasy based, there is no magic or “fantasy”, instead we see a strange blend of technology in a fantasy world. Airplanes, motorbikes, guns, grenades, tanks, etc.

Characters: 7/10 – I’ll be honest here, it is REALLY hard to like the main character of this film. He is a giant D-bag. Not even gonna lie. You’re going to hate him. He rather have drunken sex and spend all day exploiting his power to get more drugs and wealth and concubines, than return to his girlfriend even after the war ends. It’s not until his own life is in danger that he flees and comes back to his village… or what’s left of it anyways. – Maybe at the end, he has a change of heart, but that doesn’t make up for what a huge D he is in the majority of the film.

The first 15-20 minutes of the film, they build this character and his love up to have this idealistic beautiful love. Everyone in the village recognizes the love between this pair. They are utterly adorable together. They have it all. But that’s not enough for our main character.

In stark contrast, his lady love waits patiently for his return, even when the rest of her village leaves and tries to get her to come to safety with them. This made me hate the main character even more. And when she forgives him for everything, that too amplifies my anger at this character.

But I suppose this is the point of the entire movie. It still isn’t easy to watch or to like, sympathize, or side with the supposed main character of the film.

Our other 2 main characters are considerably more likeable. They are victim of circumstance. They never get a choice in the events happening to them. They are bound by duty. They don’t get to choose a peaceful life of love – which puts into perspective even more, the stupidity of the main character for never realizing the happiness he had back in his own village.

The relationship of the prince and princess is doomed from the start, however, they often dare defy the duties and responsibilities forced upon them, and meet in secret anyways to profess their love and promise each other that one day they will be together. I have never really been 100% sure about the end of their relationship. I can’t tell if what she did was intentional or accidental like perhaps she was playfully chasing and playing with his gun / flirting around. Or if perhaps, she felt the weight of her duty, and decided to put her kingdom above her love and pull that trigger to once and for all, end the war. Either way, their relationship ends in spectacular Romeo and Juliet fashion.

 

There are a number of minor characters too with very intricate and detailed back stories, including a “crazy” woman who never talks to anyone as she waits for her love to return. Her love chose to become a captain of a ship taking souls to the other side. The captain cannot leave his ship for a specified number of years. (I believe it was 10 years? I can’t recall right now).

At the end of the film, we see that our main character wishes to become the captain of this ship to follow his lady love to the other side. (This is more clear in the Japanese version of the film). The crazy woman and main character both meet in the end (I think maybe the main character was contemplating jumping off the cliff) and he sees the crazy lady still there, waiting for her husband to return. So he resolves also to wait for his love as well. (although I’m pretty sure she can never come back – although a lot of Asian religions believe in reincarnation and so perhaps it is that which he is waiting for, or for his own life to end so then in the afterlife, they can be reunited.) This shows how much thought went into even the most minor of characters to make them have heavy plot focus.

Art: 2/5 – The artwork is dated, because this anime is from the 80s. On almost every website I’ve visited in the past, this anime has horrible reviews. I feel it’s not judged fairly and people are overlooking the beautiful love stories and tragedies and focusing solely on the artwork and animation quality. The character designs are still cute though, and some of the background environments are very pretty. But overall, I’d tend to agree the animation is not clean enough and the character styles are outdated by today’s standards. That still never detracts from my enjoyment of this film.

Music: 5/5 I love the music in Windaria. Both the Japanese and English tracks fit perfectly with the themes and scenes of the film. The music carries much emotion and helps tell the story, complementing the action scenes, and especially painfully highlighting the sad tragic scenes of the anime. I especially love the vocal tracks.

Voice Acting: 2/5 I really dislike both the original Japanese, and the English voice acting of most of the characters. I guess it’s typical for how old this anime is, but almost all of the performances were cringe-worthy. That’s even more reason why someone should pick this license back up and bring in a fresh English cast. The story is so good, and the performances here just do not do it justice at all.

Overall: 33/45 73% C “Good Anime for Girls”

Ancient Magus Bride
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Ancient Magus Bride Anime Review

Title: Ancient Magus Bride
Based On the Manga by Kore Yamazaki
Episodes: 24 Episodes
Genre: Fantasy, Super Natural, Mystery, Romance, Slice of Life
Studio: Wit Studio
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Geeky: 3/5 – A great story with high production values, a good blend of action, comedy, mystery and romance make this show a hit with geeks of either gender. I took away 1 point for the somewhat slow pacing of the early episodes, and 1 point away for the character designs – they don’t feel as clean or modern as most other contemporary anime characters, even though I understand that’s the style also of the original manga.

Sweetie: 4/5 – Chise is a unique female lead. In the begining she is broken inside, however we watch her become stronger and transform due to her magic training and new found feelings and emotions.

Story: 10/10 – (Note there may be spoilers in this paragraph up to episode 12). The story is quite interesting, Chise has seen strange monsters and creatures since she was very young. Paralyzed by fear, Chise withdraws from the world around her. Her parents are unsure how to handle her, so her dad runs off and her mother kills herself. Chise is passed off to other family members but they also don’t know how to handle Chise’s unique condition. At one point, Chise discovers someone very similar to herself, able to see the same creatures as well. He grants Chise a special book. In the end, he entrusts Chise with a special request which leads her on her path. Chise wants to escape her world, to the point she tries to kill herself, and doesn’t care what happens to her or anyone else. Sensing Chise’s magical abilities, men approach her and get her to sign a contract, placing her in a strange auction for magical goods. Elias meets Chise at this auction and purchases her to be his apprentice, and future bride. Thus Chise’s magical training begins. Chise is later discovered to be a Sleigh Beggy. A person who can see spirits and fairies. These people usually live short lives because their magic powers are so strong and so draining. Elias is working on a spell that can break the “curse” upon Chise, while also showing her love and affection and giving her a home for the first time. Chise’s heart begins to open and she too begins to show Elias what it is like to be loved for the first time. As part of their “honey moon” they travel around the world helping people with magic quests, which further help Chise develop her skills and talents.

At time of this blog post, the series is halfway complete, with many more mysteries and questions to be answered:

What/Who is Elias? (I haven’t read the manga, and I’m probably way off base, but I wonder if he’s at all related to the person who gave her the book at the beginning of the anime)

WTF happened to Chise’s little sister/brother? Maybe it’s as simple as a miscarriage? Maybe it’s related to why Chise’s mom killed herself?

Why did Chise’s mom kill herself? (It’s later revealed that she at one point really loved Chise, and that both of her parents saw the same spirits and creatures that Chise sees)

What happened to Chise’s father? Will he ever be back in the picture?

Will Chise die from her magical abilities, or will Elias find a way to save her?

Will Elias ever become human?

Can Chise and Elias’ love survive all of the odds against them?

All of these questions keep you intrigued and watching each week.

Characters: 8/10 – The characters are interesting and unique. Chise starts out very weak and hard to like, but as the series progresses she matures and finds her own confidence and independence. We also witness the relationship and Elias’ changes as well. All of the minor characters are also awesome. Silky is so funny even though she is silent. And the back story of how Chise gets her familiar, Ruth, is very touching. Ruth is one of my favorite characters in the anime.

Artwork: 3/5 – I’m not a fan of the character designs as mentioned above; they just don’t seem very clean and kinda have a retro vibe. The backgrounds and effects on the other hand are lovely.

Music: 5/5 – This anime has some of the best music I have ever heard. I love both the opening and ending, but my favorite song is Iruna Etelero, the flower song that Lindel sings in episodes 11 and 12. It’s maybe my favorite song, ever, of all time, from anything, tv, anime, video game, radio, etc. It’s so beautiful and soothing.

Voice Acting: 5/5 – The voice acting is also another highlight of this anime. They really make the characters more unique and bring their emotions to life. From the deep booming voice of Elias, to the sweet soft voice of Lindel, or the sarcastic and sadistic voice of one of the series’ first villains, each character is well cast.

Overall: 38/45 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Please Save My Earth Alice and Rin
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Please Save My Earth Anime and Manga Review

Today I’m reviewing a very old manga / anime which is often credited as being (one of) the first (widely successful) Shoujo manga. Its art and story influenced other mangaka like Naoko Takeuchi – In fact there are many similarities between Please Save My Earth and Sailor Moon.

For example, both Please Save My Earth and Sailor Moon deal with lovers who were reincarnated on another planet having lost memories of their past lives and fated to meet again and remember sometimes happy, sometimes painful and sad memories. Both manga also focus heavily especially on the Earth and the Moon. There’s super powers in each one, and tales of friendship, betrayal, trust, love, jealousy, greed, and bullying.

Please Save My Earth is quite a bit darker than Sailor Moon. It’s more violent, it deals with more adult themes, and pushes some boundaries in what is common for a young girl to be reading.

Both manga also have same sex relationships and other issues that most other comics – or any form of entertainment media – typically shy away from.

Please Save My Earth features a love triangle and a lot more drama and suspense around this relationship dynamic, in fact, the relationship becomes catalyst for some of the series’ action and fighting scenes later.

But at the heart of both manga, you find a love story that has survived even after the main characters’ deaths. The timeless love story with its themes of reincarnation and the endearing characters as well as action and drama make it easy to see why Please Save My Earth is one of the best selling and most influential comics for girls of all time. It sold over 15 million units in Japan alone. Not counting reprints and other editions in other languages.

The English manga is hard to find now as it is out of print. Copies pop up from time to time, but typically sell for over $50 per issue. With 21 issues, things can get expensive quickly. Luckily, thanks to the wonders of technology, there is a cheaper solution. You can get the kindle editions of each volume for around $6 a piece. Click here to see all of the kindle editions of Please Save My Earth Manga.

If you do want the physical editions of the paper back manga, Barnes and Nobles as of this writing currently has most of the volumes in stock for $9.99 each. Much cheaper than amazon. There are a few volumes which are out of stock; and there’s the fact that this manga has been out of print for 10+ years now. So if you’re interested in those out of stock issues you will have to turn to sites like Amazon or Ebay. Here is a link to purchase the paperback Please Save My Earth manga on Barnes and Nobles Website.

The only version of the anime I have ever seen has been horribly butchered and edited – at least I’m assuming it has been significantly altered – I haven’t seen the original source material. If you look closely at the credits of both the dub and the sub English anime versions, you will see it says “Based on the screenplay by so-and-so” Based on? That’s odd. Why wouldn’t it just say “Screenplay written by so and so” – This tells me a lot of liberties were taken with this release.

Even though I’m sure the original screenplay far exceeds any of the English versions, I have never seen it available anywhere online (such as fansubbed, or etc with a more faithful translation.) So all I can do is merely speculate at the existence of some far superior anime than that which I grew up watching as a kid. Despite all of that — It’s still one of my favorite anime of all time.

Sadly, the anime is only about half of the story. It covers the first few volumes of the manga, but there’s still much much more left to be discovered. The anime is good, but really, if you want to understand the whole story, and see it as it was meant to be told without all the editing, then just go read the manga.

This anime is SCREAMING to be remade – from the facts that:

  • It was horribly edited for an English Release (not that anime studios in Japan probably care about this)
  • It is old and no longer licensed nor easily available
  • It never told the whole story of the manga
  • It is one of the best selling shoujo manga of all time and a critical influence to many other famous shoujo series including Sailor Moon
  • It’s a tale as old as time – Star Crossed Reincarnated Lovers and the tragedy and highs and lows that this all entails
  • It has mass market appeal – there’s a ton of fighting and action – there’s also a ton of romance and drama
  • The original one had ugly artwork and I would like to see it with a cleaner animation style and more attractive character designs.
  • But those screams seem to fall onto deaf ears! Will we ever see a proper 26 episode full season anime adaption of one of the best shoujo manga of all time? (based on sales figures) – It seems that since it SOLD VERY WELL – there would be an AUDIENCE (of at LEAST 15 million fans) wanting to see a GOOD FAITHFUL anime adaptation – and something longer than 6 episodes and a pasted together OVA or 2.
  • read more

    cocoppaplay
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    CocoPPa Play Star Girl Fashion Revised Review Updated for 2018

    geeky

    I had previously reviewed CocoPPa Play Star Girl Fashion here. It is a cute anime dressup game for IOS and Android Devices. Many of my complaints were about lack of free gacha and how long it took to earn free gacha plays. – That has since changed. Now almost every gacha gives you one free play, just like in Dream Girlfriend, Fairy Doll, Animal Boyfriend, Moe Can Change, and Dream Boyfriend. The first time I reviewed CocoPPa Play, that was not the case, and while nearly every other dressup game I have played let you take at least 1 free spin on each gacha, it turned me off a great deal to CocoPPa Play in my first review.

    CocoPPa Play deserves a new review, because now, with the frequent free gacha plays (new gachas are added almost daily) and there’s always constantly an event going on, so it’s honestly the game I spend the most time playing on my mobile phone, and I love it lol. Also I may have not understood how the events work, and new events have also been added since my old review, and it’s not as difficult as I thought to earn even further free gacha spins. In my old review I say the gacha tickets cost 20,000 points. They now cost 10,000. I don’t know if it was an error on my part before, or if the price has been lowered, but it is nice much easier to get free gacha tickets.

    My show in #cocoppaplay #kawaii #anime #dressupgame #cute #mobilegame

    A post shared by jenilee (@xenokitten) on

    I have a ton of pics of CocoPPa Play on my instagram. I will sprinkle a few throughout this review. Unlike my previous review, I now have a lot of pics of my own models (as well as using some screenshots from the official app store pages).

    So let’s take a 2nd look at CocoPPa Play below (Please note parts of this review have been repurposed from my previous review, while other info has been added, edited, or in same cases removed):

    Title: CocoPPaPlay (the Android version is called Star Girl Fashion but it is the same game).

    Genre: Dressup Game

    Platform: Mobile (IOS / Android)

    Grab it on IOS: https://itunes.apple.com…

    Or Here for Android: (For some reason, it’s called “Star Girl Fashion” here, but same game, even same icon that the Itunes version uses) You can pick it up here: https://play.google.com/…

    Geeky: 1/5 

    Sweetie: 5/5 

    Overall: 70 / 100 70% C- Good Game for Girls

    Concept: 10/10 The concept of CocoPPaPlay is simple – play “gacha” machines or enter monthly events to win new outfits. Outfits consist of different layers, such as eyes(facial expression), hair, clothes, shoes, hand accessories (purses, stuffed toys, swords, etc), hats, glasses, pets, backgrounds, and other items – This allows you to really fine-tune and make unique avatars. Similar to games like Pokemini (which I reviewed here) or Line Play.

    Gameplay: 9/10 I covered the basics above: There are a number of “lottery” style games (gacha machines) where you’re awarded an item for your outfit by paying or using a gacha ticket.

    There are also numerous events to win exclusive outfits. It seems the events change every week or two and that never a day goes by without some type of event going on. Events fall into one of a few different catagories:

    In all events you can earn “Lucky Tickets”: These items you can earn for free by cheering for other players shows or completing quest objectives. The lucky tickets can be used to try to play the lucky event gacha to win items/energy drinks, and/or used to raise your charm level for the event – I recommend trying to max your charm first. (similar to the events in Dream Girlfriend (which I reviewed here) Having high charm lets you get event points and rewards much quicker! Therefore its best to max it out asap. If you rank high based on your total event points at the end of the events, you get rare limited items.

    Catch Requests: In a catch event, after cheering for other players’ shows, a creature will appear on your screen with a few different catching options above it’s head and showing a percentage of how likely you are to capture them. You can “chain” successful catches to get bonus points, but once you miss a catch, that bonus is reset. If you chain enough catches you’ll go to a special bonus round after your 11th catch, where you see three creatures. In this bonus round, catching at least 2 out of the 3 will take you to yet another bonus round with a super rare creature to catch for massive amounts of points. I like to save my double point and guaranteed accuracy catching glove items for these two rounds.

    Fetch Requests: In a Fetch Event (as I have called it), there will be multiple “quest givers” who request items from you in exchange for event points. Go cheer for other players shows and complete quests to earn the requested items, then return to the events page to turn in your items for event points.

    Beam Requests: In a beam quest you find characters again by cheering for other shows. Some characters are more rare than others. Once you find a character, you use a beam to “zap” them to transform them somehow. After transforming, they award you points, more points for more rare characters. You can request help, or help your friends take down difficult characters and get lots of points. This event is fun because it goes very fast with large groups of friends.

    Fashion Snap: Dress up your avatar to suit a theme, and vote on “who wore it better”. You can earn a lot of gacha tickets in these events. They’re also the most fun in my opinion. New themes come very quickly – every day I believe. Fashion Snap often times requires you to use at least 1 item from the associated event gacha.

    Fashion Labo: Fashion Labo (which I’m guessing stands for Fashion Laboratory) is very much like the Fashion Snap events – also Fashion Labo will be going on along side any one of the other events above. Fashion Labo is different from Fashion Snap in 2 ways: The frequency of the theme changing is much slower, and length of the entry periods for each theme are much, much, much longer in Fashion Labo (spanning several days or even a week or so per each theme). Like Fashion Snap, you dress up to match the theme, and judge other people’s entries. The other big difference is you earn blue and gold hearts that can be exchanged in a special shop for more rare items in addition to those available via the rank and leader boards and as quest rewards etc. Be sure to spend your hearts, because they do not roll over to future Fashion Labo events.

    Overall, it cycles through these event styles, in a scheduled and precise way, so that you can anticipate what the next event type will be and plan when you want to play the game. I don’t know the schedule off hand (I don’t really pay that much attention to it) But let’s say it goes something like (this is not correct, just made up to illustrate my point:) If the cycle went like:

    • Fetch
    • Fashion Snap
    • Beam
    • Catch
    • then it would start again with Fetch and work in the same order again down that list.
    • And it would coincide at times with Fashion Labo.

    NOTE: Fashion Labo is easy to miss. I missed a few of the themes this month. Because the icon for Fashion Labo is pretty much ALWAYS on your screen – Even when Fashion Labo ends, it lets players check their scores, view the contest winners, and etc by clicking the icon. So if you aren’t paying SUPER CLOSE attention, and notice that the icon has new artwork – thus indicating a new round of Fashion Labo, it’s easy to miss. I’m just going to get in the habit of checking that page daily. I recommend you do the same.

    That’s about it for events. One of my favorite things about this game is that there is ALWAYS an event of some type, and thus ALWAYS rare time limited release items. So many items. Between these events and limited time gachas.

    There’s also a club feature. You can at any level, any time, and for free, create (or join) a club. You can get bonuses in the events above by having club members where certain items or do certain tasks so clubs are really useful, you can also use them to chat and make friends which gives the game a nice social touch.

    You also can take on quests from NPCs within the game, which when you complete, will add new items to their shops, and unlock new cities to explore, and grant you some free outfits. When a city “levels up” they have a sale with half priced items – but I never buy them – because I’m hoarding all my Smile Points to use in the gachas.

    As a “bonus”, there’s another app by the makers of CocoPPaPlay, where you can customize your cellphone, with new icons, background images, wallpapers, lock screens, etc. This other app works best on android – because sadly, apple has a lot of bloatware that you cannot delete or modify – for example, the camera, you can’t change the icon for it on apple, the only work around is to download a 3rd party camera app, and hide your other icon in a folder somewhere. Email is another example, for example, you have to download Gmail, and hide the default mail app. You also can’t change the phone or text icons at all on the apple iphone. But it still makes your phone about 90% cuter – though it also makes your phone a little slower, as it adds an extra step whenever you click on one of the new icons it is only a shortcut to the actual program so you get prompted if you want to open the “page” with the following application. (At least on Iphone.) This other app also acts as a social media site, and if you link up your CocoPPa account to your CocoPPa Play account your avatar is carried over to both apps and appears on your social media wall – you earn some free items in both apps for linking, and can more easily login/retrieve your account by having both apps active.

    That about covers it for gameplay.

    #mobile #games games pictured include: #pokemon #pokemongo #lovenikki #nikki #dressupqueen #cocoppaplay #lineplay #shallwedate #wizardessheart #wethegirls #pokemonduel #zookeeperbattle #romancediary #romanticdiary read more

    Heart of Crown Anime Deck Building Board Game and Video Game Review
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    Heart of Crown Boardgame and PC Videogame Review

    Update: 12/21/2017 – The developers of the PC version of Heart of Crown reached out to me via email and wanted to provide support for some of the issues I encountered, as well as to let me know about new features that are underway, such as full screen mode (currently in the beta client), and a tournament that will take place next year to celebrate the international release of Heart of Crown. They also wanted to let me know that there are (text based) chat rooms available on the Discord server (and I’ve adjusted the score for community based on that feedback). Overall, it is encouraging to see an active Dev team who seem to really care about improving the game and connecting with the community. 🙂 I hope they continue to work on polishing up the PC version of the game, but as I said already in my original review, yes the game has issues, but at the price point of $19.99 (at time of this review) it’s a great game and still a lot of fun, and a worthy purchase.

    Original Review Below:

    I recently picked up both the board game and steam versions of Heart of Crown, a kawaii anime deck building card game. I love the artwork and the theme of the game (multiple princesses vying for the throne). It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite anime (RE:Zero) so I was instantly drawn to this board game when I attended the Pittsburgh Steel City Comic Con 2 weeks ago. (although I actually purchased this one from the large game store, Mr. Nice Guy Games, at the mall nearby the convention center). And then a few days after that, the PC game released on steam, so imagine my excitement having only just heard of Heart of Crown days prior and being hyped by my new kawaii gaming find. As you will learn in this review, I am happy with both purchases, but each has it’s own unique pros and cons. Find out which version of Heart of Crown is right for you in the reviews below.

    Gameplay Explanation:

    The gameplay is simple, although it can be confusing at first, and both the manual included in the boardgame, as well as the hidden and horribly confusing tutorial in the PC game, make this gameplay seem much more complex than it actually is.

    I will try to briefly describe the gameplay, please bear in mind my experience with this title is still limited to just a handful of play sessions.

    To understand the gameplay we must first understand the different card types. Largely these consist of one of the following:

    Princess Cards – these cards are available for purchase once you reach 16 points. There are 6 different Princesses in the base game (maybe more in various expansions). Each princess has unique abilities, some passive (always in effect) and some that you can activate during your turn. These abilities may give you advantages such as viewing your draw pile, drawing extra cards, forcing opponents to discard a card, or so on.

    The objective of the game is to choose a princess whose ability matches your play style and then “back her” by acquiring points to put her on the throne. I’m not in front of either version of the game at the moment, but I believe the amount needed to back a princess is 21. (might be 20 or 25, somewhere in that range).

    When this happens, a “coronation ceremony” will occur. At this time, any other players take one final turn, and if able to do so, may also back and crown a princess. If no other players can put a princess on the throne, you win. However, if another player also gets enough points to back and crown a princess the game enters sudden death where the first player to reach 30 points wins.

    But how do you get points you ask? That’s where the other cards come in handy.

    Territory Cards: these cards grant you coins (think of it as taxing your people for living in your lands). Coins are used to purchase items from the common shared area known as the market place. Note that cards obtained from the market place go to your discard pile. This is rather quirky and different from most other games I’ve played where they would automatically go to your hand or your draw pile. When you reach the end of your draw pile, your discard pile gets shuffled and becomes your new draw pile, allowing you to finally use the cards you have purchased. Coins may also be spent to activate abilities on some cards.

    Action cards – these cards have abilities that affect you or other players such as declaring war to lower their points, or forcing them to discard a card, or allowing you to draw more cards, or take a card from the market place.

    Character Cards – these cards all feature a different character, such as a duke, maid, etc. who will grant or sometimes subtract from your total points value. After you have backed a princess, you can play these character cards by placing them under your princess card.

    There are also 2 special mechanics in this game.

    Keeping Cards: 1 is the ability to “keep” up to 3 cards in your hand by placing them over your kingdom cards (territory cards that were used to back your princess) you cannot keep a card greater than the point value of the territory cards holding it. But by keeping a card, it allows you to use that card on a later turn instead of automatically discarding it at the end of your turn when you would normally discard all of your cards.

    Chain Cards: The other interesting fact is that you can chain cards together, some cards have a yellow arrow. This means you can play another card. This is most commonly seen on territory cards.

    Putting it all Together:

    So the basics of gameplay go like this, draw your cards, play territory cards to get coins, then choose cards from the market place that go to your discard pile. As you run out of cards in your draw pile, the discard pile gets shuffled and turned into the new draw pile, and you may get lucky and draw the cards you purchased from market. Once you reach 16 points, choose a princess to back by carefully considering her special abilities. Continue to play territory cards and purchase more cards from the market – you’re likely going to be looking for cards to increase your point total. Be the first person to reach enough points to crown your princess. Other players may challenge you, so be ready to be the first player to reach 30 points and win the game, or win automatically if no one else can crown their princess after one more turn.

     

    Score Card:

    Board Game Version

    Overall Score: 52/80 65% “D” “Average Game for Girls”

    Geeky: 1/5 – the anime theme and cute girls are the only “geeky” thing here. There is little to no strategy involved with this game, no customization, no legacy, no story, no complexity, no hidden things to explore, etc. Just a straightforward, simple, cute family friendly game with great artwork.

    Sweetie: 5/5 – And that great artwork is enough to score it a 5/5 on the sweetie meter. Combine that with the theme of the game, a game about princesses, and you have one of the cutest games ever.

    Breakdown:

    Value for What’s Included: 7/10 – You get a lot of cards, with gorgeous high quality art work, a beautiful box to store the game in, and a lengthy detailed full color glossy manual. However, that manual can be confusing and overwhelming to new players. There is no play mat, card sleeves, tokens, figures, or other goodies, but I still think overall, I feel satisfied with what was included at the $40 price point. Note there are expansions you can buy that add new cards and new features as well.

    Initial Learning Curve: 5/10 – setting up the first time and learning what to do can be frustrating. But once you jump into your first game, it really isn’t so bad. Therefore, the learning curve difficulty is somewhere in the middle. It may turn off some casual gamers, but is still simple and friendly enough for family game night or to introduce to your non-gamer friends.

    Gameplay: 7/10 – it’s simple, short and sweet. Most games take under 20 minutes to complete. There is a nice variety of cards, from abilities, to characters, and plenty of opportunity to interact with other players. However, the game length is quite short and there’s not much complex or exciting / enticing to help enhance replay value. I think this game will be fun once or twice a month, but don’t see it being a “weekly game board night” staple, when other games offer greater replay incentives and more for even the most seasoned and veteran gamers to discover on multiple playthroughs. Still, if you have young kids, or a significant other who is obsessed with “the kawaii life” they will love this cute little anime game. I bought it simply because I love how cute it is, and I’m not disappointed!

    Artwork: 10/10 – I love the artwork, for me it really sold me on this game – Picked it up in a board game store I had never visited before, and had not heard of the game, and bought it simply because of the cute anime girls lol.

    Interaction With Other Players: 4/10 – I feel like this is solidly in the middle somewhere. There are plenty of action cards and abilities to play against your friends. But it’s not as social as let’s say cards against humanity nor as encouraging of attacks and alliances as say Munchkin,

    Fun: 7/10 read more

    My Neighbor Totoro Anime Review
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    My Neighbor Totoro Ghiblifest 2017 Anime Movie Review

    I went to see My Neighbor Totoro subbed last night as part of the 2017 GKids Studio Ghiblifest. The theater I went to seemed to have a fairly good turnout for the show, but not as popular as the theatrical SailorMoon Release which I reviewed here (dub) and here (sub)

    Still it is nice to see anime getting more coverage in theaters. I drove almost an hour to go see Totoro, but it was still closer than the nearly 2 hour drive I made (twice) to go see Sailor Moon. It’s also awesome to see old anime like Totoro from the 80s and SailorMoon from the 90s finally on the big screen!

    The excitement of seeing such childhood favorite films on the silverscreen inspired me to want to do a review for Totoro today.

    Also be sure to check out the Studio Ghiblifest home page, there will be other Studio Ghibli films in theaters all summer long, with the next one being Kiki’s Delivery Service on July 23 (dub) and 24 (sub). I like Kiki’s Delivery Service so much, that I might just go to both of them :).

    Onto the review:

    Title: My Neighbor Totoro

    Studio: Studio Ghibli

    Release Date: 1988

    Genre: Slice of Life, Adventure, Fantasy

    Geeky: 2/5 This film is beautiful to watch, even now, 20 years after its initial release. But plot wise, this is a very slow moving film, slow and uneventful for almost the entire film, and then insanely rushed in the last 10-15 minutes of the film. Actually the ending feels really disjointed from the rest of the film and you can read about that under the Conspiracy Theory below. The languid plot and ending that feels out of place make this a hard film to like, unless you’re watching it for the beautiful backgrounds and cute characters. Systematically though, I can’t give it high “technical” points due to the poor writing.

    Sweetie: 4/5 Like most Ghibli films, this is super charming with a lot of heart. It depicts every day life of two little girls living in a new home in the forest with their father as they wait for their mother to return from a hospital. The girls encounter magical creatures, and those creatures are super adorable to boot. Blending slice of life in traditional Japan in a quiet countryside rural village, alongside the mystical and fantastical secret world that only the girls can see, and all the new magical friends they make, this tale is full of sweet cute moments sure to appeal to anyone looking for a kawaii cute family friendly and feel good anime. — It loses one point because there is no plot or character development. Unlike other Ghibli films, this one just never seems to get off the ground or accomplish much.

    Story: 6/10 The story is a slice of life look at the life of 2 very young girls. Their mother is sick in the hospital with some unexplained illness, and their father has just decided to move the family to a new home in the country, thinking the fresh air from the trees would be good for his wife once she returns back home. While exploring their new surroundings, the two girls stumble upon a magical creature which they dub Totoro. Their father says Totoro is a very old forest spirit, and the father, along with Totoro, teaches the young girls to love and respect nature.

    Characters: 9/10 The real reason to watch this show is because all of the characters are cute, unique, heart warming, and funny. Not just the adorable Totoro and his friends, but also the human children. The anime puts a lot of work into making us like and care about the girls and their father. In fact, the entire film, until the very end, is just day to day stuff that the girls find exciting about their new home, or sharing loving family moments with their father. — That said, unlike most Ghibli films, there’s really no character “development” the characters do not change much at all throughout the movie. This, combined with a very slow moving plot, makes the anime feel slow and sleepy at times.

    Conspiracy Theory: If you’ve already seen the film, here’s something you may be interested in reading. There are spoilers below here, so proceed at your own risk.

    +*0+*