‘Shugo Chara!’

Surprisingly sophisticated but unfortunately creepy.

Shugo Chara!, written and illustrated by Peach-Pit. Translated by Satsuki Yamashita. 12 vols. Kodansha Comics (New York): 2013 (2006). Rated T (ages 13+).

Shugo Chara!Shugo Chara! Doki, and Shugo Chara! Party!, directed by Kinji Yasuta. Satelight and TV Tokyo, 2007-2010. 127 episodes of 25 minutes (approx. 53 hours). Not rated. Available on Crunchyroll.

The Background

In the midst of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Kunihiko Ikuhara’s magnum opus, there are a number of screwball gag episodes dedicated to the side character Nanami, a spoiled rich girl who laughs inappropriately, a requisite character in shoujo anime. In one of the most fascinating of these gag episodes, Nanami awakens one morning to find an Easter egg in her bed. Convinced that she must have laid it, she first tries, from embarrassment, to hide its existence, but on account of some misunderstood conversations, she eventually comes to the conclusion that egg-laying is normal for girls. In keeping with the coming-of-age theme of magical girl shows in general and Utena in particular, the egg becomes over the course of the episode a multivalent symbol by turns representing puberty, menstruation, childbirth, and child-rearing.

This one-off episode apparently became the inspiration for another whole magical girl franchise, Shugo Chara!, by Banri Sendo and Shibuko Ebara, the two-woman manga-ka team known collectively as Peach-Pit. They got their start with works aimed primarily at a male audience: the little-known harem comedy Prism Palette, the raunchy magical girlfriend series DearS (which is sort of like Chobits with more bondage), and an action series called Zombie-Loan. In the U.S., probably their most famous title is Rozen Maiden, an unusually classy harem series that’s something like a cross between Pinocchio and Highlander with a veneer of Gothic horror. It’s spawned Internet memes and a modest cult following.

The History

Shugo Chara! was Peach-Pit’s 2006 foray into shoujo manga, appearing in Nakayoshi, a magazine aimed primarily at girls aged nine to fifteen. This same magazine has hosted such titles as Sailor Moon, Sugar Sugar Rune, Saint Tail, and various adaptations of the Pretty Cure franchise. So it’s a magical girl powerhouse. Continue reading “‘Shugo Chara!’”

Major Old-School Anime Titles Hit Blu-Ray

Format war can have a silver lining. As Blu-ray continues to replace DVDs, it seems some old anime series have come back to the market this year. I haven’t been keeping a super-close eye on this like a fanatic, so when I say “back to,” I might be speaking loosely in some cases, but still.

I only regret that, due to life circumstances, my current anime budget is zero. If it weren’t, I’d snatch these up. So, just to be clear, this is a list of stuff I want, not stuff I’m reviewing. I believe strongly in compensating artists for their work, so I don’t do bootlegs, and that has the unfortunate effect of putting a lot of gaps in my first-hand anime knowledge. I’m passing on the news of these titles because a few of these are works I tried to acquire legitimately in the past, but failed to do so. For that reason, their re-release is notable.

This is a handful of arbitrarily selected “want to see” titles based solely on my personal taste. (NOTE: You may need to turn off Adblock to see the images.)

Continue reading “Major Old-School Anime Titles Hit Blu-Ray”

‘Made in Abyss’ Gets TV Anime

This escaped my attention back in January, but the web comic Made in Abyss by Akihito Tsukushi is slated to get a TV anime adaptation, directed by Masayuki Kojima and animated by Kinema Citrus.

I stumbled upon Made in Abyss back in December, when I raved about the artwork.

And though it escaped my attention at the time, it was only a few days later that Crunchyroll reported news of an impending anime adaptation. I take this as further proof that I really live in a solipsistic universe that bends to my will, and you are all figments of my imagination. Bwa ha ha.

I hope Crunchy’s report is indicative of their plans to fish for the rights to stream a sub. At present, Made in Abyss is not legally available in English, though it was originally produced as a web series and can be read online in Japanese. I for one am quite curious about the series because the story sounds charming and the art is gorgeous.

And Tsukushi-sensei’s characters all look so darn huggable.

Is ‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Too Gay?

Featured image: Totally a real screenshot from the film and not some crazy cosplaying by GeshaPetrovich.

Sailor Moon R: The Movie, directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara. Screenplay by Sukehiro Tomita. Starring Kotono Mitsuishi, Aya Hisakawa, and Michie Tomizawa. Toei Animation, 1993. In limited release from Viz Media, 2017. Dubbed. Runtime 78 minutes. Rated PG.

We’ll get to the meaning of the deliberately provocative clickbait title of this review in a moment. But first, let’s cover the preliminaries.

So, I just saw Sailor Moon R: The Movie, the first North American theatrical release of a Sailor Moon film, courtesy of Viz Media, which now owns the North American distribution rights. The film originally came out in 1993 and runs a mere hour and eighteen minutes. I hope some other showings around the country are more successful than the one I attended, or Viz Media is going to go broke, and I don’t want them to go broke until they finish releasing the series. Continue reading “Is ‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Too Gay?”

Sequel to ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ Is Coming … Prepare Yourselves

Featured image: “Cardcaptor Sakura Fanart” by Daikazoku63

Cardcaptor Sakura is one of the biggest titles in the magical girl genre. It was the first foray into mahou shoujo manga by the unbelievably prolific four-woman team Clamp, which produced it from 1996 to 2000. Its anime adaptation, which began airing in 1998, is one of the few TV cartoons that can hold up in terms of technical quality more than a decade after its run. The anime adds a great deal to the story; some of it is padding, but a lot of it is real improvement. A sliced, diced, and dubbed version was released in English under the title of Cardcaptors.

For reasons I’ll explain in a post I was working on for today but didn’t get finished, I don’t care much for Cardcaptor Sakura. Nonetheless, I must announce that after all this time, Clamp is adding a third arc to the story, the “Clear Card Arc,” currently underway. The first collected volume appeared in Japan last month. I don’t believe any English translation has appeared as of yet.

An anime adaptation is slated to begin in January of 2018. Plan is to bring back director Morio Asaka and round up much of the original voice cast. The Cardcaptor Sakura anime had very good production values, so bringing back the old-timers rather than getting fresh blood seems to be a good move. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The original story featured its heroine in fourth and fifth grade, gradually powering up as she collects the “Clow Cards,” each of which contains a magic spell. The sequel now has her in middle school.

While many fans are excited, I’m scared. What is Clamp going to do to that poor girl now? She barely escaped all those perverts last time. I’m especially worried about Tomoyo, her obsessive best friend who at first seems to be an innocent little ten-year-old girl until Clamp casually drops the bombshell that she’s a monomaniacal lesbian stalker with a costume fetish and a penchant for voyeurism. Is this going to be the story arc where she hides a camera in Sakura’s bathroom or something?

‘Sailor Moon R: The Movie’ Update

I have successfully purchased my theater ticket for the first American theatrical release of a Sailor Moon film, which runs under the impressive title of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose: Really Long Name for a Cartoon: It Just Keep Going: Holy Friggin’ Cow: How Many Colons Is That?

Okay, I’m kidding. I think they’re just calling it Sailor Moon R: The Movie for this release, but “The Promise of the Rose” was slapped onto the American release the first time around. This theatrical presentation will also include the first-ever American showing of the short film Make Up! Sailor Soldier, which according to Infogalactic is basically a recap episode for anyone who might be seeing the movie without having watched any of the TV series first.

Except instead of “soldier,” I think the official translation is “guardian” now, which I kind of hate. Admittedly, “sailor soldier” sounds dumb in English, but still.

And while we’re on the subject, it is ironic that, according to Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr.,* sailors view soldiers with contempt and even use “soldier” as an insult meaning “lazy good-for-nothing.” To mimic the sailors’ slangy speech, Dana renders the word soldier as “soger.” According to him, the captain of a sailing vessel might even punish an especially lazy crewman by making him march up and down on the deck, holding a marlin spike as if it were a rifle. Such a humiliation is sufficient to break some men.

… And that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Anyway, speaking of laziness, it’s kind of an epic journey to the theater from where I am, but barring some unforeseen contingency, I should be able to make it. I will put in every effort to do so, as I wouldn’t want to be seen as lazy like a soldier. Or sailor. Or sailor soldier. Or whatever.

It will no doubt be a great thrill at last to see a magical girl in the theater … and for that matter, to hear the new dub for the first time.  I’ve been watching Sailor Moon in the Japanese with subtitles. I don’t really like to indulge in the perpetual play-fighting of otaku over sub vs. dub (if anyone really cares that much, let him take the time to learn Japanese), but switching from one to the other will no doubt be jarring.

I’m really looking forward to this. It is supposed to be the best of the Sailor Moon movies.

*And no, Dana Volt is not named after Richard Henry Dana.

‘Magical Girl Raising Project’: The Final Verdict

It’s a bloody mess.

Magical Girl Raising Project, episode 11, “Server Down for Maintenance” and Episode 12, “File Not Found.” Directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto. Studio Lerche. Produced by Genco (2016). Two episodes of 24 minutes (approx. 48 minutes). Rated PG-13. Available on Crunchyroll.

I was going to review this earlier in the week, but my Flash player kept crashing for some reason. Anyway, let’s get this over with so I can get back to injecting Sailor Moon S straight into my bloodstream. As I mentioned before, Magical Girl Raising Project gave me a hankering for Sailor Moon S, and then Viz Media turned around and supplied.

I’m a heroine addict, and these distribution companies are my dealers.

Here be spoilers. Since we’re talking about the two final episodes, I assume that’s obvious.

Continue reading “‘Magical Girl Raising Project’: The Final Verdict”

‘Sailor Moon Crystal,’ Season 3: The Final Verdict

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, Episodes 34 to 39. Toei Animation, 2016. Approx. 144 minutes. Available on Crunchyroll.

Viz Media has finally, after taking its sweet time, produced the full, uncensored release of the first half of Sailor Moon S, the 1990s anime series that roughly follows the third, “Infinity” arc of the Sailor Moon manga. So now seems to be a good time to finish up our review of the third season of Sailor Moon Crystal, which came out this year and follows the same arc.

Character design comparisons: manga, 1992 anime, and Sailor Moon Crystal, swiped from Impact Books.

I had previously been reviewing Sailor Moon Crystal an episode at a time, but I stopped because … well, frankly, I got bored. Hey, it’s not like anyone pays me for this. Continue reading “‘Sailor Moon Crystal,’ Season 3: The Final Verdict”

‘Sailor Moon R’ to U.S. Theaters

This news is a month old, but that’s hot-off-the-press current by my standards. Viz Media is releasing Sailor Moon R: The Movie, the most popular of the Sailor Moon movies, to about three hundred U.S. theaters.

The article at Fuse asks, “Do you remember watching Sailor Moon R: The Movie as a kid?” The answer in my case is no. I was probably in middle or high school then and was not watching cartoons. Although it means my magical girl weeaboo cred is about to take a hit, I’ll admit it: I’ve never seen Sailor Moon R: The Movie. My first time watching any Sailor Moon was in the uncensored re-release, so I’ve never even seen it in the hacked-up and bowdlerized American version. I was no longer a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons nor yet a goony college-age neckbeard when this franchise was making it big.

There’s a list of theaters and showtimes over at Eleven Arts. One of those theaters is … well, not exactly close to me, but close enough to make it worth making the trip in the name of nerdery, so I’m going to do my best to make this happen. Tickets aren’t available yet, but I’ll keep my eye on the prize. I don’t know what the chances are of its selling out before I get mine, but we’ll see if we can make this happen.

I’ll let you know as details develop. In the meanwhile, Anime News Network has an interview with some of the English voice cast.

Troy Tang on ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

Singaporean sf writer Troy Tang, who happens to be in my writers’ group, has a new blog, Thoughts with a Touch of Tang. If you’d like to get touched by Tang, I suggest you check it out.

Right now, he’s running a series on Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 2011’s groundbreaking and mold-busting magical girl series from Gen Urobuchi and Studio Shaft. His essay series is entitled, perspicaciously enough, “When You Wish Upon a Star: Hope and Despair in Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” and there are presently two parts. In the first, he sets the series within the context of Urobuchi-sensei’s larger body of work. In the second, he uses Madoka to segue into a philosophical discussion of Søren Kierkegaard and the meaning of despair.

He also for some reason dislikes referring to Madoka by its title and instead gives it several nicknames. My favorite is Pouty Moulding Manchild Mistresses, though I would think that any sensible manchild would select his waifu from somewhere at least slightly less depressing. Mine is Duck from Princess Tutu, but that’s not the kind of thing I’d announce to strangers on the internet.

My own opinion of Madoka, to be honest, is that I’m sick of it. It’s an awesome series, unquestionably. It is easily one of the best magical girl shows ever made, and in some respects it is possibly the very best. But yeesh, it’s been five years, and as a result of Madoka‘s influence, the genre is still stuck in its emo phase. Let’s do something else now.