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Anime Review 21: Death Note, Twelve Kingdoms, and Mai HiMe
Death Note is a show that I already know and like. Although it is popular, I put it on this list because I wanted to see more of it. :) The plot is based on the Death Note, a powerful item that allows the user to kill anyone by writing down their name while picturing their face, and they may specify a time and manner of death and control a person's actions before dying within reasonable limits. The story is interesting because it's essentially told from the villain's point of view. Light Yagami is an ambitious and intelligent young college student who finds a Death Note. Thinking it's a prank, he begins by writing names in it to see what will happen. When Ryuk, the Shinigami who left the Death Note in the human world appears, Light Yagami is happily executing criminals from the television news, whom he sees the justice system as being too lenient on. Soon the police start investigating these seemingly unrelated and seemingly accidental deaths. They call on L, a bizarre, eccentric, genius detective to focus on catching the killer known to the press as "Kira". And so begins a fascinating chess game.
I started with episodes 10-15 since I've already seen the beginning episodes. The episodes I saw represent the birth of Misa Amane as a character. Misa is a second "Kira". She is a second person who possesses a Death Note. A big fan of Light's work, she tries to copy him and sends video tapes to the media proclaiming herself to be Kira and issuing demands that the police cooperate with Kira instead of getting in his way. She also makes a deal with her Shinigami, Rem, to gain the power of a Shinigami's eyes and the ability to see someone else's name and lifespan while looking at them in exchange for half of her remaining lifespan. Misa is a fairly famous model so, when Light meets her, he's cautious about being involved with her even though she proclaims her love for him within five minutes of meeting him. Cautious because Misa tends to attract public attention everywhere she goes, when public attention is the last thing Light wants while he's trying to figure out L's games in advance and stay a few steps ahead of him. He's also putting a lot of effort in his attempts to get L to stop suspecting him of being Kira. When he learns that Misa Amane possesses the Shingami eyes, he becomes determined to try to use her powers to kill L. Will he succeed? Or will a careless mistake on Misa's part cause Light to be found out along with Misa?
I was very impressed by this anime. I would say it needs more attention. It was a great mix of magic, drama, and adventure. It was realistic and edgy but full of wonder and fantasy at the same time.
Twelve Kingdoms is about a rather unfortunate Japanese girl with natural red hair. Her parents, being freakishly conservative (they think girls can't wear pants and shouldn't be better than boys at sports and that they should be "obedient", that kind of thing is hard to even fathom in American culture), are telling her to dye her hair black in order to look more conforming. But before she can do that, monsters from another world attack her school, and a prince with long, pale hair makes her fight them off with a magic sword. She then ends up transported to another world altogether, unable to return to Japan ever.
The world here is a lot like most fantasy anime, low technology, lots of magic, powerful demonic creatures run amok, and everything resembles a bygone feudal-era Japan. However, the similarities to other fantasy anime's I've seen end there. Everyone in this place seems incredibly xenophobic, they hate everyone they encounter from China or Japan because they believe they bring bad luck or misfortune. This girl is also the opposite of a Mary Sue character, her two friends hate her and her female friend can't wait for the chance to turn her back on her, and no one wants to help her and it seems like everyone and everything is out to kill her. When the three high-school children decide, for example, to rely on a kind elderly woman to give them food, shelter, and clothing and to keep them hidden from the authorities, the "kind" old woman turns around and tries to sell the two girls to a brothel. In this world, this girl is alone and can trust no one.
Mai (or My) HiMe
I thought this anime had potential but I didn't care for it all that much. It was exciting and seems action-oriented, almost to the point I'd call it a shounen if the main characters weren't magical girls. Although they do seem to have somewhat masculine personalities, so it isn't much of a stretch to call it shounen action. The main character, Mai, is kind of like Asuka Langley Sohryu from Evangelion. Not just in appearance but personality; she seems to have two modes: belligerent and bitchy. Especially when dealing with males. I found the whole plot to be too confusing to really understand in the first few episodes because a lot happens very quickly. It kind of seems like a fan-servicy action-y cartoon without due consideration to having a plausible, coherent plot and likable characters. At this point in time I would say, yeah it's entertaining and well-animated, but it hardly lives up to the hype I've seen on sites like TV Tropes.
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