Anime Review 12: Sakura Gari, Hoshi no Kaabii (the Kirby anime), and Black Lagoon
Yuu Watase, in this critic's humble opinion, writes mainly based on her own sexual fantasies. Now this is judging off of only two manga I've read by her so far because they happened to trod onto my magic list, so my opinion really only comes from this and from reading as much Absolute Boyfriend as I could tolerate. My review of Absolute Boyfriend is here. I really believe that on further reflection I may have been too harsh. Just because the robot love genre doesn't appeal to me doesn't mean I have to knock it. That fantasy seems sort of pathetic and desperate for control of your partner though, but what kind of nerdy girl would I be if I didn't have the hots for Data from Star Trek, Next Generation? The main problem I have is with "lolicon" (sexualized images of little girls) and the sick way they make the girls robotic in a lot of them to disguise what's really going on.
While Yuu Watase is clearly a talented artist, I feel simply that sexual desire is her main reason for picking up a pen. Sakura Gari is a steamy Yaoi (gay: the boy-on-boy variety) romantic story set in an interesting time period, the Taisho period, which dates from 1912 to 1926.Sakura Gari is about a boy who gets taken in as a servant by a rich family in exchange for living expenses while attending the local university. He gets more than he bargained for with the master, however, who lusts for him because of his pure, goody-two-shoes nature and seeks to corrupt him. However, there's a bitter rivalry between him and an older servant in the same house. And there's an indication that the family is hiding many bizarre dark secrets. Our typical "nice Japanese boy" may just be in over his head!
I think this manga showed more maturity than Absolute Boyfriend, was very beautifully drawn with exquisite detail, and shows Yuu as a master manga-ka, not just a silly girl drawing out a fantasy. In my opinion this is much better than Absolute Boyfriend. However, it is a bit explicit, abrupt, and unsubtle and, while it would satisfy readers who yearn for hot romance and detest waiting around for writers like Rumiko Takahashii to get to the point, some people may be shocked or offended by Yuu's style. So it's definitely not for everyone, but personally, I found this manga very sexy, intense, intriguing, and beautiful. Also, it's very refreshing that since Fanservice (usually non-graphic sex appeal in the artwork) is usually of women and aimed at a male audience, Yuu flips this and draws Fanservice of men, aimed at a female audience.
Hoshi ni Kaabii (Kirby of the Stars) - the japanese version of the Kirby Anime!
Hoshi no Kaabi (Kirby Anime)
This was a delightful show. I've heard awful things about the 4 Kids dub, though, but I'd definitely recommend the Japanese version. It's not exactly deep or intricate, the plot is basically the same in every episode: King Dedede orders a "demon beast" or monster from this evil corporation, Kirby tries to fight it at first and fails, but then his friends help him learn something new that helps him beat it at the end.
I liked episode 5, however, which involved King Dedede cutting down a forest full of sentient, magical trees and had a cool environmental message. (Of course, Dedede was basically just doing it for fun, and thus was obviously a villain - in real life environmental debates can involve a lot more in terms of shades of grey.)
One of my favorite things about this show was the cute opening theme song and the fact that the closing theme was basically just a How To Draw Kirby & Dedede set to music. I posted the opening theme song here. Enjoy! (Isn't Kirby cute!)
Kirby Opening Theme Song
In my reviews I usually like to save the best for last. This one is no exception. Well, best is a subjective term. I like this because it's dark and full of awesome action. Someone with a more feminine taste in anime might not enjoy it.
It's kind of like Trigun or Cowboy Bebop at sea, and also set in the present instead of the future. It's about another "nice Japanese boy" character who gets in a strange situation. He's a young business man who was trying to work his way up the corporate ladder at a snails pace when he gets kidnapped by the Russian Mafia and finds himself becoming abandoned by his company and befriending the pirates who held him hostage at first. He eventually ends up joining them. He then finds himself involved in a strange, but exciting new world, the criminal underground world of the south-east Asian seas.
The show has a lot of interesting dialog, smart characters with varied and fascinating backgrounds, and intense bursts of action that are pure adrenaline. It doesn't seem likely as a candidate for my new favorite anime, but it's definitely entertaining and interesting.
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Review of Beck, Kimi Ni Todoke, and Rose of Versailles. Note that the reviews are usually based on just 5 episodes.