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Anime Review 30: Yotsuba &!, Ga Rei Zero, and X/1999
Also known as Yotsubato!, this manga is a playful, sunny romp that could entertain children as well as put older readers in touch with their inner child. The manga chapters are almost all titled along the lines of "Yotsuba and ____!", so the theme titles are the reason for the manga's overall title, Yotsuba&!. Yotsuba is a happy green-haired child who gets into lots of zany adventures. The manga is pure, wholesome fun and a whole lot of it.
It reminded me of Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh because that's the kind of humor this manga uses. However, Yotsuba is a bit younger than your typical Jr. high or high school aged manga protagonist. The manga starts with Yotsuba moving to a new town with her single father and meeting her neighbors. Yotsuba discovers the joys of swing-sets for the first time. Hilarity ensues. I liked it because it was cute, funny, heartwarming, I like that they were able to capture unbridled childhood joy and put that in the story.
Ga Rei Zero
Though Ga Rei Zero has a lot of interesting characters, the main focus of the story is the relationship between two: Kagura and Yomi. During the first two episodes of this story, I thought of this as a guy's/action anime without much to the plot; the first two episodes involve a lot of fighting with very little explanation or depth. However, further episodes reveal that this anime has amazing depth and feeling; it has moments that are funny, but also parts that are emotionally resonant and profoundly sad.
See, on this battlefield against demonic, zombie-making spirits and the possessed zombies themselves, this fighting girl named Kagura becomes re-united with Yomi, a friend of hers who's been lost and gone for a long time, possibly even presumed dead. It isn't the sunny reunion you might expect though, because Yomi now seems like a completely different person from the Yomi that Kagura knew; an evil person. They have an epic and amazing-looking fight in a sewer and, as Kagura is left almost dead, she begins to have flashbacks. The episodes I saw after this were flashbacks about the beginning of her relationship with Yomi, how they trained to fight these monsters together, how Yomi had been like her sister, how Yomi had helped her become strong. It actually moved me to tears to see how close and loving Yomi and Kagura had once been, since the viewer has seen what Yomi will one day become. I don't just want to see more of this one, I HAVE to. :)
Also known simply as X, this anime based on a Clamp novel contains loads and loads of characters who are mostly exceptionally beautiful. It's a surreal, other-world fantasy that melds elements of historical and modern Japan in unique and interesting ways. The plot seemed fairly complicated because there are many parties and factions and people that all want something having to do with darkly brooding pretty boy Kamui's destiny. Except there are two Kamuis, and two destinies. In that, at one time, it will be either Kamui's destiny to destroy the world or to save it. The Kamui that the viewers are first introduced to is kind of an insensitive, hateful jerk who looks like he's leaning towards the destruction end of things, so the fate of the world basically hangs on some emo teenager's mood.
Other than Kamui, however, the manga offers a lot of interesting and likable characters with cool powers. There's a blind, deaf, mute prophetess who speaks using spiritual energy alone. There's a girl with a spirit dog that few other people can see. There's a man in a coma who was once good friends with Kamui, who can talk to people in his dreams, and the woman who visits his dreams, who is actually the least talented magical person in a very magical family. There's a Buddhist monk with psychic powers who wears average street clothing. There's a dark-haired beautiful girl with a far-off look and strong powers who wants to kill Kamui. There's probably dozens more people who are majorly involved in this story. If I could watch more of this it would be because the plot was kind of all over the place and I'd like to be able to figure it out more.
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