Anime Review 11: Beck, Kimi Ni Todoke, and Rose of Versailles
Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
This anime is about all things that are considered cool in Japanese pop culture, among them American and British rock bands, cussing in English, clubbing, going to rock concerts, and being good at sports. This show is a good portrayal in my opinion of late teen to early 20's lives, being realistic without using artificial-feeling melodrama to advance the plot. The animation is impressive but the best thing about this show is the music. And the dirty and funny things that are said in English so as a native English speaker, you have the advantage over a Japanese viewer who doesn't have the benefit of Japanese subtitles. Same with most of the band's song lyrics. The show has the same name as the musician Beck, but is about a band named Beck that's named after a dog called Beck, with no mention of the real-world musician by that name or use of his music. That being said, the rock style of the show's music often seems inspired by Beck, but also seems to include more pop-style singing and heavy guitar and bass. This show is 100% pure urban, youthful coolness.
Kimi ni Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke
This show struck me as interesting because, it could be seen as the inverse of Peach Girl's premise; a girl is socially stigmatized and has it difficult in school because of her looks in both, but in this one it's because of her pale complexion and dark hair, which make her look so creepy and ghost-like that whenever she approaches most people she scares them away. They spread rumors about her ability to curse people and talk to ghosts, and they call her "Sadako" when her name is actually "Sawako" because "Sadako" is the name of the creepy ghost girl from the Japanese version of the movieThe Ring,Ringu. Sawako is shy and afraid to correct others' misconceptions of her at first, but the show is about her gradual warming up to others and making friends with her classmates, as she learns to feel more comfortable with expressing her feelings and standing up to bullies and liars. Sawako is actually a very sweet and caring person who constantly volunteers to do classroom chores that none of her classmates want to do, because she really badly wants everyone to like her and see past her looks and a few weird quirks. It turns out this caring and generous nature of hers doesn't go unnoticed, it gains the attention and respect of Kazehaya, one of the most popular and socially outgoing boys in her class. When Kazehaya develops an admiration for and attraction to Sawako, their budding friendship/love allow Sawako to come out of her shell because it gets more people on her side and willing to stand up for her. However, after all the years of being a social outcast, Sawako is still socially awkward, shy, and nervous about coming out of her shell. This story is very beautiful, romantic, and heartwarming. I would recommend it for someone who likes school drama with a lot of realism, very likable characters, and a sweet romantic story.
Rose of Versailles
Rose of Versailles
Rose of Versailles is about a girl who was named Oscar by her father, who wanted a boy when she was born and vowed to raise her as such, so that she could join the Royal Guard of the Palace of Versailles in France when she came of age, as her father was head of the Royal Guard. So Oscar has a strong, forceful, masculine personality and grows to be a very capable fencer and loyal guard. However, Oscar is less than thrilled when she realizes her duty will entail guarding the Princess Antoinette, a new member of the court arriving from Austria at the naive age of 14, engaged to the Crown Prince. At first Oscar resists being a "babysitter", even though she is only a couple years older than Princess Antoinette herself. Princess Antoinette resembles Sailor Moon in a period costume, and I noticed that her main rival in court, the King's mistress, Madame du Barry, resembles the Sailor Moon villainess, Kaorinite. The episodes I saw were mainly about the bitter rivalry between Marie Antoinette and du Barry, as Antoinette refused to address her in court (a huge deal, basically being addressed by Antoinette was the same as being formally welcomed and/or invited, without your presence being acknowledged by her, it was as if you didn't belong in court) because her attendants had told her about du Barry being a former prostitute, which caused Antoinette to wish to adamantly refuse to allow her to be acknowledged in court. The problem with this was that du Barry, as the King's mistress, held enough sway with him and was able to manipulate his emotions that he ended up directly ordering Antoinette to acknowledge her properly. Antoinette refused once and was carted away by a bitterly anti-du Barry servant a second time, but pressure from her mother and an Austrian advisor telling her that war between France and Austria could result from her quarrel if she did not do as the King ordered, she conceded and spoke to du Barry. I found it interesting that this shoujo show is told basically from Marie's perspective, and in it she is a pure, noble, and tender-hearted princess, if a little shallow and bratty simply because she was raised like that. You know that as historically accurate as they went with this show that it will have a bad ending, if you know anything about the French Revolution. However, the show is artful, full of exciting action, and the very best possible for people who like early shoujo with strong female lead characters.
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