Shin

Natsume Yuujinchou

Great slice of life anime with a twist, Natsume’s Book of Friends revolves around Natsume who inherits a book from his grandmother, who had the same ability as he does, the ability to see spirits or yokai.
The anime is now on the fourth season at the typing of writing this and shows no sign of getting weaker, so watch it for some relaxing awesomeness, I honestly can’t think of a single bad thing to say about the show. Very thoughtful and clever writing and yet fun at the same time. I do hope they’ll go into Madara’s backstory some more, he’s my favorite by far, either in normal form or as a lazy overeating sake drinking maneki neko.
Read more…

Maison Ikkoku

Ending song 2

Godai is a ronin (someone who has failed university entrance exams) living in a run down apartment house called Maison Ikkoku. Among the other residents are the nosy Ichinose, the sexy Akemi Roppongi, and the mysterious Yotsuya. The others are given to having wild parties which makes it difficult for Godai to study. Into this mayhem comes the recently widowed Kyoko as the new live-in manager. Godai falls for her, but doesn’t have the nerve to tell her. As time passes, their relationship slowly develops amid life at Maison Ikkoku, despite all sorts of romantic hurdles.

Opening song 3

It’s a dime a dozen now, but not back in ’86 when this was originally made. And it’s fun, good fun. You can’t help but feel for poor Godai as he struggles to win the heart of Kyoko while dodging his most annoying neighbors. But despite being mostly lighthearted it also adds a lot of depth by going into all the sidecharacters so you even sympathize with the annoying Akemi & Yotsuya, or his rival in love Mitaka.
I also love the soundtrack, all the different opening and ending themes are classic 80’s stuff at its finest. If slice of life is your thing you can do worse than checking out this classic, and with 96 episodes there sure are a lot of slices.

Supernatural – the animation

I like Supernatural, the tv show about Sam and Dean Winchester fighting the forces of evil.
I like anime.
So how cool is it that they’ve now made an anime about Supernatural?

The answer… not cool at all. In fact, I struggled to get through the first episode and definitely do not wish to see any more.
Where did they go wrong? Well, everywhere. It doesn’t feel like Supernatural because there’s no suspense, no build up. The characters are lame and act more like caricatures of their real world counterparts. The story is rushed and plot developments have no background whatsoever. As for the anime, well it just feels made in the US, I don’t like the style or the animation.
It just blows.

Spice and Wolf

Spice and Wolf is different. Instead of sticking to the usual stereotypes it focuses heavily on economics and trade, explaining a lot of it in its medieval(ish) setting. The main story revolves around the traveling merchant Kraft Lawrence who goes from town to town buying and selling goods. He comes across Horo, a young girl who turns out to be a wolf that can shapeshift into a girl. Horo’s been protecting the town’s harvest for ages, but the times they are a changing and people are switching to the belief of the one god and its church is determined to kill all pagan traditions and deities, one way or another. Kraft decides to help Horo and together they set off into the world, looking at it each from their own perspective. Of course there’s the obligatory romantic undertone between them but even that’s different than usual.
The whole series just seems more intelligent. Interesting plots and backstory, great artwork, beautiful opening song and kookie ending song, it’s just a breath of fresh air.
Well worth the watch.

At the time of writing I’m halfway season 1. There’s 2 seasons, and a manga series, which in turn is based on a series of novels. Given the amount of backstory it’d be nice to read the novels as well.

Opening song, 旅の途中 “Tabi no Tochuu”

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

At the beginning of the film Layton receives a letter from the famed opera singer, Jenice Kaitly, inviting them to see her newest performance. She also asks Layton, Luke, and Remi for assistance in a mystery, saying her friend Melina went missing one year ago but returned later as a seven year old girl saying she had found the secret of eternal life. Naturally, the case fascinates Layton and his apprentices, so they head to the Crown Petone opera house. When they arrive, something is very strange: the pianist, Ozro Vislar talks of a game, and the winner will win the “eternal life.” It is up to Layton, Luke, and Remi to solve the mystery of the Eternal Diva before it is too late.

Wow. I had no idea they made a full Professor Layton movie. If you like the games; get this. The atmosphere is spot on, the music is brilliant, the settings and story are original and grande. I hope this gets a western release, but I doubt it.






Rosario + Vampire Capu 2 – ep 1 & Characters

Rosario + Vampire Capu 2
Episode 1 / 13 – Reunion + Vampire
Release Date: October 2, 2008
Genre: Harem, Fantasy, Romantic Comedy, Action
Story By: Akihisa Ikeda
Licensed By: Capcom King Records

Overview of Last Season Rosario + Vampire

Tsukune Aono who is unable to get into any private schools due to his less than perfect grades.
When he is finally accepted into one he quickly finds out that his school, Yokai Academy, is a school of supernatural monsters disguised as humans. For his life’s sake he hides the fact that he is human. He meets several Yokai who turn his life upside down. Among one of them is Moka Akashiya – a beautiful young vampire who has one side that is innocent and delightful and the other harsh and arrogant. Only when the rosary and seal around Moka’s neck is removed is her colder yet unusually strong side revealed as it is her true nature and form as a vampire.

Throughout the season, Tsukune is faced with many different challenges. Most notably, his challenge of telling his new found precious friends that he is human.

Chronological Order of Last Seasons Episodes

1. “New Life & Vampire” – January 3 2008
2. “Succubus & Vampire” – January 10 2008
3. “Witch Girl & Vampire” – Jaunary 17 2008
4. “Goodbye & Vampire” – January 24 2008
5. “School Swimsuit & Vampire” – January 31 2008
6. “Newsclub & Vampire” – February 7 2008
7. “Yuki-onna & Vampire”- February 14 2008
8. “Math & Vampire” – February 21 2006
9. “Summer Vacation & Vampire” – February 28 2008
10. “Sunflower & Vampire” March 6 2008
11. “New Semester & Vampire” March 13 2008
12. “Public Safety Commission & Vampire” March 20 2008
13. “Tsukune & Vampire” March 27 2008

Characters

Moka Akashiya
Species: Vampire
Age: 16
Personality: The upbeat and sweetly innocent female protagnonist whose beauty and charm attracts many male and female students at Yokai Academy. Initially weary of humans due to her vampiric nature, Tsukune’s revelation to her that he is human was quite a shock but it did not hamper their special friendship. Throughout the first series, even when Moka was her true vampire self, she shields Tsukune from attacks and even gives him her blood to live again in episode 13 – “Tsukune & Vampire” – of the last series. Her infatuation lies with Tsukune and he reciprocates by nurishing Moka with his blood without resistance.
Weaknesses: Water and silver crosses
Strengths: Super speed, agility and strength.
Voiced By: Nana Mizuki (Love Hina, Full Metal Alchemist, Itazura Na Kiss)

Tsukune Aono
Species: Human
Age: 16
Personality: Tsukune passes with flying colours as a gentleman, being kind and polite but the constant hounding of his female ‘precious friends’ causes his mind to wander from time to time. He is quick to forgive and forget especially those precious friends who at one time tried to kill him and Moka. Though Tsukune has no special powers to speak of now he puts himself in harm’s way to protect his friends. For that reason, he is revered highly and even enviously by many.
In the last season, his humanity was revealed to his other friends Kurumu, Yukari and Mizore. Even with this being known, they all aide Moka in saving Tsukune’s life.
Weaknesses: Anything that could be considered fatal to any human.
Strengths: None to speak of but a few characteristics stand out – forgiveness and compassion
Voiced By: Daisuke Kishio (Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino, Vampire Knight, Inuyasha)

Kurumu Kurono
Species: Succubus
Age: 16
Personality: Kurumu is a typical flirt. She flaunts her largest asset (her breasts) and does nearly everything in her succubus abilities to win over Tsukune. As a succubus, she has the ability to win over men with love potions and by her mesmerizing gaze. Initially, she mesmerizes Tsukune into loving her but by the end of episode two of last season she felt it best to win over Tsukune without cheating. While still deeply attracted to Tsukune, she has hopes to win him over with one kiss that will forever make him her king.
Weaknesses: Lack of combat skills.
Strengths: Her bat like wings, long nails and demon tail when she is in her succubus form she has the strength to carry people while flying. She can also cut down trees with her extraordinarily long nails. She is also able to mesmerize people with illusions.
Voiced By: Misato Fukuen (Devil May Cry, Strike Withces, Soul Eater)

Yukari Sendo
Species: Witch
Age: 12
Personality: Yukari is Yokai Academy’s child prodigy and the top of her class. In the beginning, her childish arrogance and play made her the envy of her classmates. In the beginning, her crush was on the tall and beautiful Moka but eventually her feelings gave over to Tsukune as he defended her from the classmates who tried to hurt her for being smart and a witch.
Weaknesses: Without her wand, she is unable to cast spells
Strengths: Her most common spell is to call upon pots and pans to crash down on people. When she combines her strengths with witch friend Ruby Tojo, their power is nearly unstoppable.
Voiced By: Kimiko Koyama (Ai Yori Aoshi, Happy Lesson, Negima!)

Mizore Shirayuki
Species: Yuki Onna/ Snow Woman
Age: 16
Personality: Much like the description of Japanese Folklore, Mizore is very pale and has a serene gaze. Yet her eyes and aura will become terrifying when provoked or angered. She is generally shy and watches her beloved Tsukune from a distance but when around him, her feelings are made obvious. Sometimes her unexpected appearances will be called stalking by others. She skips classes and doesn’t appear in obvious places. Her heart warms up to the others by the end last season’s of episode eight.
Weaknesses: N/A
Strengths: Manipulating and summoning ice at will. She is also able to make ice clones of herself when in a deeply aggitated state.
Voiced by: Rie Kugimiya (Loveles, Trinity Blood, Astro Boy)

Ruby Tojo
Species: Witch
Age: 20
Personality: Ruby first met Yukari in episode nine. As a fellow witch, Ruby tried to persuade Yukari into staying with her on the Witches Hill. Ruby’s darkside appeared when she felt others were threatening her, her master and the Sunflower Hill. When Tsukune and the others revealed that her master was conguered in Ruby’s state of extreme loneliness, they asked her to be their friend. Ruby is an unusually powerful witch with many spells up her sleeve. By the next season, Ruby becomes a school aide. She isn’t a very predominant character throughout the series.
Weaknesses: Like Yukari, without her wand she can’t do much.
Strengths: Summoning killer plants and explosions
Voiced By: N/A

Review episode 1 – Reunion + Vampire:

It is finally time to go back to school after two weeks of spring break and Tsukune is dearly missing his precious friends, especially Moka. At the place Tsukune first met Moka, he literally runs into a bad tempered pig-tailed red head who takes a liking to Tsukune’s blood. Or rather, she ran over him with her bike and declares that he is a pervert. That aside, Tsukune meets up with Mizore, Yukari and Moka. All of whom have been swamped by confessional fan letters from the freshmen. One strange letter in particular addressed to Moka rubs them the wrong way. It reads –
” To My Dearest Moka onnesama – Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. And then this spring I will be able to see you… and my heart is filled with emotion. By the way, I will arrive on the day of the school entrance ceremony… and take your life”
Moka is filled with terror as well as the others. Throughout that day, Moka is giving many of those strange letters by the same person. On the day of the entrance ceremony, the nastily tempered redhead picks a fight with two of her superiors and Moka’s true vampire self is awoken to break it up. Once Moka is back to her more gentle side, the redheaded girl appears again and professes that she is the one to take Moka’s life. Shockingly enough, the redheaded girl is Moka’s little vampire sister Kokoa Shuzen.

Introduction of New Character

Kokoa Shuzen
Species: Vampire
Age: 15
Personality: A pugnacious and ill tempered vampire who possesses nearly the same strength as her sister Moka.
Weaknesses: N/A
Strengths: Speed, agility and super strength
Voiced By: Chiwa Saito (Hell Girl, Lucky Star, Allison & Lillia)

Episode 1 screenshots:

Excel Saga

Type: Parody comedy
Target group: Shounen
Number of episodes: 26
Recommended age: Somewhat mature, includes medium violence, sexual references and nudity.

(Possible spoiler warning)

The Plot
Mental. Absolutely completely positively mental. It’s pretty much impossible to think of a more fitting description for this series. Allow me to give you a short summary of the first episode: The year is 200X. The scene is F City, F Prefecture. A revolutionist group called ACROSS, led by the mysterious Lord Illpalazzo is plotting to take over the city, and in the long run, the world and rid it of its corruption. The only problem is that the current single member, Excel, is a complete airhead and produces more surplus energy than a nuclear power plant. In fact, Lord Illpalazzo has to kill off Excel twice before she is conceivable to carry out his order. Sound strange? Not at all, because this series conveniently comes with the Great will of the Macrocosm who can reset the plot whenever necessary. (Which is often) As for Excel’s first assignment, she is briefed to annihilate one of the main threats to the world; the bringers of chaos and perversion… manga artists… Target no.1; Koshi Rikudo. (Who just happen to be the original author of this series.)

The first episode amazingly manages to give the viewers a rough hint of what to expect from the other 25: It is a bunch of strange and always-failing attempts to take over the city, and members of the Excel Saga production staff are pretty often seen. Each episode is also designed by the author to be a parody on a specific genre, ranging everything from romantic comedies to dating-video games, Star Wars and B-action movies. Due to these unusual twists in style, the series is not as much a series, as 26 loosely connected episodes. The most noticeable red line Excel Saga offers is the sub-plot perils of the immigrant worker Pedro, whom gets killed in a fire caused by Excel and as ghost desperately tries to reunite with his “sexy wife” and his son.

A special warning is in place for episode 26, named “Going too far”, which is a very fitting name for one of the most perverted episodes from a not-hentai series I’ve ever seen. Also expect much blood and general grossness! Definitely not for the timid!

The main characters
Excel: She is a young girl, just graduated from high school, with enough energy to light up a block. Unfortunately she is unable to process all that energy into something productive, and therefore mostly just end up failing her missions. Her will to please Lord Illpalazzo also makes her incredibly unfocused and throws her into constant rants about the greatness of Lord Illpalazzo, which in turn forces him to use a special trap door designed for Excel only, to allow her too cool down when necessary. (Which is quite often.) It takes to the end of the series to realize, but deep down Excel is a sensitive person and the reason she follows Lord Illpalazzo at all is not out of ideological zeal but out of an over-dimensioned teenage crush.
Hyatt: She is the second member of ACROSS, and is actually some mystical Space Princess brought to this world with the invasion of the alien race of Puchuus; small, pink and devastatingly cute little creatures. Hyatt herself has a kind and innocent personality, but a curious disease causes her to cough up blood and die at least twice every episode. The reason she follows Lord Illpalazzo is unknown but her docile personality has made her Illapalazzo’s favorite.
Menchi: A stray dog who by coincidence ran into an Excel near starvation and therefore got abducted to serve as her emergency food supply. Excel’s reoccurring death threats has brought poor Menchi to a breakdown and a couple of episodes are about Menchi’s attempted escapes. Unfortunately for her, sudden twists in the plot always bring her back into Excel’s clutches.
Lord Illpalazzo: A mysterious character who’s background we know basically nothing about, but for some reason he was entrusted by the ACROSS High Command to secure F City. Apart from planning the various plots for conquest he delivers to Excel and Hyatt, he appears to be doing very little but sit on his underground hideout-throne and play dating-video games or electric guitar.
Nabeshin: He is probably the most curious character of them all, since he can jump into the plot for no apparent reason at anytime. He is the avenger in afro, and the fact that he is the director of the series (Watanabe Shinichi) makes him impossible to defeat for all the nasty bad guys.
Iwata, Sumiyoshi and Watanabe: Three ronins living next door to Excel and Hyatt. Iwata is a carefree guy mostly out to bring the over-serious Watanabe down to earth, while Sumiyoshi is a calm thinker, but for some reason he has no voice, making everything he says appear in kana and kanji characters on the screen… In order to become respectable to the ladies, they manage to get hired as municipal workers.
Kabapu: The head of a secret municipal branch in charge for city defense. An eccentric character with an impressive yellow moustache, which comes off from time to time.
Pedro: South American immigrant worker, hard working and honest, but misses his wife and son terribly. Gets caught in a fire and dies, but turns into a ghost.

The music
You wouldn’t expect too much out of a mental comedy like this, but Excel Saga brings us a pretty all right soundtrack indeed. The composer Toshio Masuda brings us a variety of songs, from pop-ish to hard rock (one piece even sounds suspiciously alike Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’) and several melodramatic tear-jerking pieces. Most noticeable however are the up-beat and catchy opening song “Ai chuuseishin”, lyrics written by the director and superhero Nabeshin, and the hilarious ending called “Menchi’s Bolero of sorrow: ‘So, are you going to eat me’”, which is quite as insane as it sounds. We have Menchi on screen, making howling noises, which are translated into a tear-jerking story of Menchi’s death-angst. It is hardly necessary to point out who wrote the lyrics… What is really funny about the song is not only the lyrics, but mainly that the music itself is your classic, tear-jerking, tragic drama piece, in my opinion a beautiful work of art, and you often hear variations of the theme whenever the story focuses on Menchi.

Overall
Excel Saga is without a doubt the craziest series I’ve ever seen. Never before have I seen so many mental plot-twists and ridiculous occurrences and jokes. Of course, you must have a pretty special sense of humor to fully appreciate the work, expect to encounter much stupid, ridiculous Naked Gun-class humor.
However, in my opinion it is way too long, because no matter how silly it might be, the lack of a red line throughout the series apart from the Pedro-subplot makes the series a little dull eventually. Fortunately for the series, a real multi-episode plot takes place when you pass 20 episodes and the last episodes are actually quite intriguing as the humor takes a backseat to allow the initial plot to have it’s final showdown! The series actually end at episode 25, but to show the viewer that the Excel Saga staff are sick sick people with sick sick minds, they decided to make a final episodes with no boundaries. Expect heavy ecchi stuff!

The characters, on the other hand, are very well done in my opinion; They’ve put together a good mix of comedic characters, I’m especially fond of Nabeshin because of his often ridiculous and completely pointless appearances, and the minor character Shioji, an eccentric inventor whom suspiciously enough surrounds himself with young girls when he’s coming up with inventions. He has a weak spot for kawaii girlish language, and so do I. =)

All in all, it’s well worth watching, it’s a little too long, but if you got the same sense of humor that I got (somewhat twisted), you’ll be sure to have many heavy laughs!

Finally, to all those who own the DVDs, I strongly suggest that you set the ad-vid. feature on, because it will explain to you whenever a parody-remark is made, which is quite often. You can tell there’s a thorough work behind.

By Midnightwolf

Yumeria

Original Work: NAMCO
Director: Keitarou Motonaga

Note:
>> There is a Yumeria video game out there. It is what inspired the creation of this anime. It was released in 2003 by NAMCO. I have never played it, so no comparisons between the game and anime will be made in this review.
>> You may click on images to enlarge.

“Mone! Mone mone mone!”

Yumeria introduces us to another harem-like comedy. One average, everyday guy is suddenly blessed with the company of five beautiful women all under the same roof. Does that sound familiar? Tenchi Muyo, Love Hina, the latest Ai Yori Aoshi may come to mind. Just like these titles, Yumeria is complete with ecchi humor, ditzy humor, and of course beautiful ladies.

So who is the lucky guy and how did this all start? Well, the man of the hour is Mikuri Tomokazu. One the night of his sixteenth birthday, Tomokazu is sent to a dream world, called Moera, where he finds himself in the middle of a battle between a monster and a young girl. When he awakens the next morning, Tomokazu finds the same young girl lying beside him in his bed! Before he knows it, life for Tomokazu quickly turns a new leaf. His once quiet and normal life has turned into a life full of adventure and fun. He becomes responsible for defeating the evil creatures of Moera from invading and taking over Earth. One by one, his female companions—Mone, Mizuki, Silk, Neneko, and Kuyou—join his adventure. When the females are touched by Tomokazu (ha!) they transform and/or receive a power charge, which gives them energy to defeat the faydoom. On top of saving the world, Tomokazu must also make it through school AND deal with 5 women! Poor guy…

The “save the world” plot is not one of the best out there. The series is short and it comes to a closure just much to fast. I doubt a viewer would get hooked onto the series because of its “save the world” plot. It feels way too much like a cheesy shoujo. What kept me continuing with the series were the characters and fun. The females are very typical to other females you would find in similar genres, but the creators still did a decent job of expanding their personalities—especially when their major concerns involve the protagonist. On top of the typical harem characters, there are also the typical funnies—panty shots, lesbian fantasies, breast physics, half naked ladies, accidents, and nosebleeds. Tomokazu is, of course, the man to develop the closest bond with the girls. So, expect a good amount of heartwarming moments, as well. Aww…

The music is really pretty. I am not going to complain about it at all. It feels really cute and touchy, and the music does a great job at touching up those heartwarming moments. The opening theme is really bouncy, exciting, and silly sounding, but for some odd reason I like it. I do not like comparing music, but I have to say that if you like the music from Chobits or Azumanga Daioh then you will probably enjoy Yumeria’s as well.

The animation has its ups and downs. The anime looks bright and the character designs for Tomokazu and his group of ladies are adorable! They look like your average anime cuties. The backgrounds, for the most part, are colorful and just fitting for Yumeria. The downside is the entire design for Moera. It may have been the artist’s intentions to make the world look boring and lifeless, but it really is not so great. The creatures of Moera, whom are called Faydoom are the oddest, but simplest of things. They look like basic geometric shapes with perhaps a wing and a horn there. Impressive? Not at all.

Overall, Yumeria is still an enjoyable anime to pick up if you are a fan of harem stuff and looking for another to add to your collection. However, the series is nothing new. If you do not watch Yumeria–no fear–you are not missing out on much. Recommend for mature audiences because of some perverted humor.

Score: C+
+ Amusing
+ Adorable characters
– Weak plot
– Ending feels rushed
– Been there, done that. We’ve seen the “one guy, five girls” thing done already.
? Questionable animation

License Information Note: I got a hold of Yumeria through some online fansubs. However, Yumeria is not available for download anymore. ADV Films announced its license at Anime Expo 2004. Look for its official release in the near future.
Another Note: Because it has not been released in the United States yet, the character’s names and the anime’s title may turn out to be something totally different. I’ll try to remember to change this information if they do turn out to be different.

Characters:


Mikuri Tomokazu: He is young and a very laid back guy. He is your average-everyday high school student (with average high school student perverted tastes). His parents passed away when he was younger, so he now lives with his cousin, Nanase.


Mone: The adorable blue haired girl from Tomokazu’s dream. She is adorable and knows it. She can only say one word—”mone”—hence why she is named mone. Think of her as another Chii from Chobits.


Senjyou Nanase: Tomokazu’s playful cousin. Her measurements are well enough to give a crowd full of men nose bleeds. She knows she is sexy and uses that to toy with her little cousin’s perverted mind at times. The relationship between Nanase and Tomokazu is a really strong one, starting back when they were both very young. They are more like brother and sister than cousins.


Agatsuma Mizuki: Tomokazu’s long-time childhood friend. She is smart (a top student at school even), shy, and pretty. She has the “girl next door” personality.


Neneko and Koneko: Neneko is the fun loving, cat-wanna-be girl. She is lively and very curious. Koneko is her cat friend. (Koneko is the cutest thing in the world) They are always together.


Silk: Silk is the mysterious woman who informs and guides Tomokazu and the other ladies about what they must do in Moera. Silk only appears in the dream world. She is powerful and very knowledgeable about Tomokazu’s power. Not much is known about her.


Senjyou Kuyou: Kuyou is the “cheerleader” of the group. She is enthusiastic and optimistic. Just like all the other ladies, she also enjoys teasing Tomokazu and “playing matchmaker.”


Sensei Ishikari: This is Tomokazu’s extremely odd teacher who likes being cruel to Tomokazu. He’s a perv. Period. He loves young girls. *cough* young girls…

Episodes:
(Episode titles may change when released in the US)
1. Birthday 16
2. Tomokazu, 0 Mark
3. Bulma V
4. School Swimsuit Strategy
5. Watch at Dream’s Beach
6. Master of Yukata
7. Girl Who Endlessly Reincarnates in Reverse
8. Our Refusal
9. Bunny Man
10. Katsu-don Flavor
11. Destiny Change
12. Tomokazu, 100 points

By Bounty Huntress

Yami no Matsuei (Descendants of Darkness)


Yami no Matsuei (or Descendants of Darkness)

Yami no Matsuei is a shojo manga by Matsushita Yoko (also referred to as Matsushita-sensei) and serialised in the bimonthly mangazine Hana to Yume. (Bimonthly as in twice a month and not every other month.)

The first story debuted in 1995, running in issues 7-12. This story introduced the main character Tzusuki Asato. The manga has run on and off through the last three years but has currently accumulated 11 tankobon (collections of the stories printed in the mangazine). The present story arc seems to be dealing with Hisoka’s family, Hisoka getting a (some?) Shikigami, and Tsuzuki’s relations with his 12 Shikigami.

In Fall 2001, a thirteen episode tv animation for the series was created.

After death, the souls of the deceased must be judged in order to be sent to their place for reward or punishment. The land of the dead is called Meifu and the bureau who handles this system is called Juoucho. The Juoucho has ten bureaus, one of which is the Emmachou, who are in charge of bringing the souls to trial for their deeds. This office is also in charge of investigating mysterious cases of certain souls who have not died. These are called Shinigami and always work in pairs.

This is the story of Tsuzuki Asato, a Shinigami, who has the power to summon Shikigami (mythical beasts). On one assignment, the mystery of the dead leads him to Muraki, a charismatic man with astonishing powers. His new partner, Hisoka, is bound by fear and distrust of Muraki because this is the same person that led to his untimely death. But as Muraki gets drawn to Tsuzuki, a bigger mystery is beginning to unravel that will change the world of the dead forever.

The anime starts off with beautiful and breathtaking opening credits so much so that it leaves me in awe with each new episode. ‘To Destination’ sings ‘Eden’, its opening song, which clearly defines the dark and seductive tone of the entire series. And along with exquisitely rendered animation where they show a lineup of bishounen one by one, how can anyone resist Yami no Matsuei?

The introduction regarding the world of the dead is a very interesting concept. This concept is based heavily on Japanese Buddhist themes, hence the many foreign terms that cannot be easily translated to English. It will be helpful if one would know about these terms since they are inevitably used all over the series. Don’t worry about not understanding the series since Yami no Matsuei takes a more modern approach to this concept by making the courts of the Dead into the very semblance of the Japanese political offices.

The episodes are all about the Emmachou’s investigation of certain mysterious cases of untimely deaths led by the laidback slacker Tsuzuki, who actually exhibits a lot of powerful potential. Tsuzuki himself is a funny bishounen who is a perfect central figure to break this dark and often bloody setting. His partner, Hisoka, is his serious counterpart who has the ability to look into a person’s inner mind. There are actually a lot of bishounen introduced in the series but do not play major parts save for the anti-hero Muraki, who is also bishounen. That however, seems to guarantee nothing else but yaoi themes. From Hisoka’s partnership with Tsuzuki to Muraki’s attraction to our main character, the cycle seems endless. The yaoi themes are not that explicit though and even Tsuzuki is shown to resists Muraki’s advances so those who are not into yaoi need not worry.

Because the Shinigami is asked to investigate mysterious death cases, the scenes are often bloody. But the appeal goes on since the realm of the dead always involves something magical and that the battle scenes have fantasy players like Shikigami. Watching Tsuzuki (oh so delicious in his trenchcoat) summon his Shikigami called Suzaku (the Phoenix) is definitely amazing, even majestic!

But for a series with too much eyecandy and altogether promising dark concept and intense storylines, yaoi themes and fight scenes, why does it stop at 13 episodes? The episodes actually focus more on the investigation of just three mysterious deaths and only vaguely introduces the grand scheme of our anti-hero, Muraki. You are aware that there is a grand design behind all these little monster-of-the-day situations that our heroes are involved in but in the end, you haven’t the faintest idea what Muraki is up to. For me, leaving a viewer with a hanging ending is too much of a crime like what Angel Sanctuary did — leaving viewers on our own to just follow-up the rest of the story in the manga. Why does it all end abruptly?

But maybe that’s what it’s all about. Because the very theme of Yami no Matsuei enthralls you into a world of bishounen so dark and seductive, it could be argued that the hanging ending attunes to the ‘mystery.’ Either that, or future plans for an OVA…

By Raven

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.