Barakamon

Barakamon

So, why did I decide to start Barakamon? Because right now, its prequel, Handa-kun, is airing to more than satisfied audience. So it felt like a good idea at the time to start in on this anime.

Handa Seishuu is a talented but temperamental calligrapher. As such, he is prone to mood swings and impulsive acts which often land him in trouble. During one calligraphy exhibition, the director of the exhibition severely criticizes Handa’s calligraphy style, associating it with a copybook style of writing and lack of originality. An angry Handa punches the old geezer in the face for this criticism, and is almost immediately sent off to a remote island by Handa’s father who comes to know of this incident.

Handa is allotted a house, which has turned into a secret base for the villagers’ kids, and he is greeted by a mess of a place, along with a small kid Naru. And thus begins Handa’s journey to finding his own style of writing, and some good old self-discovery.

Barakamon is really funny throughout its length, and Handa is the butt of many jokes, ranging from his cooking “skills” to buttjabs; the variation fills a whole spectrum. The characters are awesome too; Handa is stellarly designed, as is only to be expected, as are the villagers. The anime renders village life in a most life-like way; every villager knows the other, something which is sadly amiss in urban life. And all the villagers are funny in their own ways; the school teacher is always seen with a cigarette in his mouth, while Tama, a school-going kid, wants to publish a horror manga in Shounen Jump. Everyone has their own quirks which make them uniquely lovable, for lovable they all are. But for me, the real star was Naru; she’s sooo cute and funny, and does crazy stuff all the time.

Anyone who has some level of interest in calligraphy should find Barakamon to be more of their taste, possibly. In any case, fans of anime like Hayate or Gintama should find this a worthy pick.

RATING : 8.5/10

PROS :
– well-designed characters
– hilarious
– occasionally heartwarming too
– Handa’s mom

Pokemon GO : Getting Pikachu as your starter

Pokemon GO : Getting Pikachu as your starter

So, it has been barely two weeks since Pokemon GO has been released, although it has been only a week or so for the non-US users to get the app officially. But one thing no one can deny is the impact it has made worldwide. But cool things first; how do you catch Pikachu for your starter?

When you start up the game for the very first time, after the sign-in and stuff, you’ll be greeted by a middle-aged geezer named Professor Willow.

After finishing with your character’s attributes, he’ll explain some of the game’s features to you, and then will give you some items and sets you, the trainer, on your journey. First thing to do; get your starter Pokemon, of course!

First up, you’ll be surrounded by the three Pokemon, Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. You can catch any one of these as your starter[just like the Red/Blue days]. But wait, what about Pikachu, huh?

Ignore the three Pokemon if you want Pikachu.

When the three Pokemon appear on your radar for the first time, DO NOT try to catch them, instead walk away from them all. They may repeatedly try to get back in your radar but ignore them. After three or four rounds at this, you’ll at last be greeted by, you guessed it; Pikachu[Easter Eggs hell yes]. Go ahead and catch it. You just got your very first Pokemon.

 

 

Joker Game

Joker Game

Ever wanted to watch an anime about clandestine activities? I must say, I’ve seen my share of anime over the years, but I still haven’t viewed a single anime which totally revolved around spying. Until Joker Game, that is.

Joker Game is set in the period of the Second World War. Japan had never really had a proper spy agency as such; the Imperial Army commanders didn’t believe in the act of spying. They in fact thought of spying as an act of cowardice, something which they had no room for in their hearts and minds. Even so, through the machinations of one person, a spy agency was established. The organization was known as the “D-Agency”, headed by the mysterious and enigmatic Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki.

D-Agency operated on one very basic tenet; ‘Don’t kill. Don’t die.’ This was alien to the Imperial Army’s beliefs, who believed in killing and dying for the country as the ultimate expression of patriotism. The final eight candidates who were selected for spy training were all thereon trained under extreme conditions, both physical and psychological. The anime follows D-Agency’s spies and their spymaster in various acts of espionage and betrayal.

Joker Game renders the WW II era more or less faithfully; the steam-engine trains, the now-vintage cars, all those hats everywhere, it’s pretty well done, I’d say. Animation is slick throughout the show. Most of all, it gives us viewers the feeling that we’re watching a true-blue show on espionage, not like those James Bond movies where everyone knows he’s a spy. Only thing is, there is not much emphasis on the characters themselves, except for the spymaster. Yuuki is an amazing character, but the spies are forgettable, in the sense that they do not get much screen-time and we’re only vaguely aware of their being a spy through their actions. Also, most of the show is episodic, many of the plots last just one episode, with events occasionally transpiring over two episodes.

Overall, I’d say that Joker Game is a pretty good anime, and those who like to watch shows about espionage would definitely take to it.

RATING : 8.5/10

PROS :
– slick animation
– well-realized setting
– lead character is awesome
– the approach to spying

CONS :
– less screentime for other characters
– episodic nature may not be for everyone

 

ReLIFE

ReLIFE

So on my recon of the latest anime which I could try out, I came across 91 Days and proceeded to start in on this ongoing show. But when I almost had decided on 91 Days, I saw that ReLIFE would be a better thing for me to watch, as I prefer to binge-watch my anime rather than watch an episode a week. And conveniently enough, all the episodes of ReLIFE came out together, as if it were one of those Netflix shows. So, how is this anime?

ReLIFE follows Kaizaki Arata, a 27-year-old man who has resigned from his first job in just three months, and has since been without a regular job, living off his parents’ allowance and part-time jobs. He applies for jobs and attends interviews, but has not been able to score a steady job yet. After a night of drinking with his friends, which he attends only to keep up appearances, he receives a phone call from his mother. Kaizaki’s mom cuts off his allowance over the phone, and he is left worrying about his future, which look positively bleak and hopeless.

But just as his phone call ends, Kaizaki is greeted by Yoake Ryo, a scientist from ReLIFE Research Institute and is offered a year’s costs and a job waiting at the year’s end if Kaizaki participates as a test subject in an ongoing research. Kaizaki has to take a drug which transforms him into his 17-year-old self and attend high school for the period of a full year. In his drunk state, Kaizaki ends up taking the drug capsule overnight. Later he does agree to being a test subject in the experiment, if only reluctantly. Kaizaki’s days as a NEET are over.

ReLIFE is an anime which plays out over a school-life setting, with Kaizaki studying alongside kids who are ten years his junior. The show makes good use of its setting, and fills the cast with a bunch of colorful characters. The trials and tribulations which Kaizaki faces on his one-year long journey through high school again, make for fun viewing with lots of humor. The supporting characters are interesting too, and above of all they are believable and identifiable. I personally found the character of Kariu Rena, a really competitive girl in both sports and studies, to be the best-written; in fact, she more or less carries ReLIFE‘s plot forward. Only problem for me, was remembering Rena’s first name, I always kept switching it up with Higurashi‘s Ryugu Rena.

relife-anime-funny-scene

The story itself is not a revelation as such, with most of the plot being the generic stuff that happens over school life, but that does not take much away from ReLIFE. Also, some of the comedy stems from a long-standing gag throughout the show, which some may find to be a tad annoying. But otherwise, ReLIFE is a well-realized anime. It’s not Gintama-level awesome humor[I doubt anything can ever reach up to that level], but it is pretty good.

This may quite probably be one of the better offerings of this summer, unless there are many more anime with amazing plots and stuff. I personally found ReLIFE to be heart-warming and fun throughout.

RATING : 8.5/10

PROS :
– identifiable characters
– funny
– ending is awesome

CONS :
– plot progression may be a tad on the tried-and-tested route

 

Sakamoto Desu Ga?

Sakamoto Desu Ga?

Did you ever watch an anime where the protagonist is a super-cool guy, with everything he does being touted as the epitome of coolness? Well, you may or may not have, but if you really want to see a new anime with such a lead? Look no further, because Sakamoto Desu Ga? is such an anime.

The titular character, Sakamoto, is a high-school student in his first year of high school. But he isn’t just any other regular student; he is the definition of suave. The very first episode confirms this fact with more examples than I could care to count. The efforts made by his classmates to somehow bring him down to ground-level, only serve as stepping-stones to Sakamoto’s growth in fame over the whole of his school. For example, the way Sakamoto fights against a typhoon to save a sparrow, armed with nothing more than his umbrella, is one of the many amazingly incredible things he does.

The anime is the definition of suave comedy, or more accurately, Sakamoto is the living example of swag in perpetual motion. It begins from the opening theme itself, with the song extolling Sakamoto’s awesomeness. The whole show is carried on Sakamoto’s able shoulders, and he clearly stands up to it. Sakamoto’s character has been designed amazingly well; on the outset, a cool protagonist feels cliché but the show really makes use of both conventional and out-of-the-box situations to show off his awesomeness. But even though Sakamoto is the strength of the show, the creators have not ignored the other characters. Sakamoto’s classmates are realistic and we viewers can sympathize with their feelings. The only extremely unbelievable thing in the show is the girls’ reaction to Sakamoto’s presence/absence; it’s really over the top, but it helps to set the tone of the show.

Overall, if you want to watch a funny anime in a school setting with a few slice-of-life elements, Sakamoto Desu Ga? is one fun way to go.

RATING : 8.3/10

PROS :
– lead character is cool as hell
– good animation
– suave humor

CONS :
– may be too over-the-top for some

NOTE : Sakamoto Desu Ga? is Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto in English.

 

Stephen King – The Drawing Of The Three [The Dark Tower #2]

Stephen King – The Drawing Of The Three [The Dark Tower #2]

I found the first entry in the Dark Tower series to be a bit on the unsavory side, although I did enjoy the action sequences in the book. At least the ending of The Gunslinger gave me the much-needed impetus to pick up the second book. So, how is the sequel?

Very good, indeed, if I may say so. Well, even if I may not say so, not many can deny the fact that The Drawing Of The Three is a brilliant piece of writing from Stephen King. The plot picks up from where it left off, with the protagonist, Roland the gunslinger waking up at the shore of what seems to be an endlessly running coast. And he is not alone. He has  “lobstrosities” for company, and very early into the book, Roland has to fight these monstrous creatures off, sustaining grievous injuries in the process. The next day, he finds what is akin to a door at the beach, and opening it leads Roland into the mind of another person who has been destined to accompany Roland in his grim, dark quest for the Dark Tower. Just ka-things.

So, what is ‘Drawing’? It is the act of pulling out a person from his/her world into Roland’s own. And he gets to do it with three people, hence the name of the novel. The people Roland ‘draws out’ are all from New York City, and there seems to be some as-of-yet unknown connection between Roland’s Dark Tower and NYC.

The book has three main parts, each of which is concerned with Roland’s drawing out the destined people, and all of them are unique in their own way. One arc has Roland in the mind of a cocaine smuggler, while another has Roland inside the mind of a woman with split-personality. And the third…well, that’s even more awesome. The action sequences in this book are fabulous indeed, and not only the action, but also the characters are more fleshed out now. We begin to identify ourselves with Roland more than before, and the new characters all have their own motivations in their own worlds.

I had to struggle to finish the first book, but no such experience repeated itself in The Drawing Of The Three. This is Stephen King the way I like him. This is a marvel. I sign off.

RATING : 9/10

PANDA EYES – KIKO

PANDA EYES – KIKO

Thanks to DubstepGutter and Mr. SuicideSheep, I went from being a guy who listened to mostly mainstream music, to someone who listens to a shitload of dubstep and indie music. Recently, I took time off to listen to the whole of Panda Eyes’ album KIKO. So how is this dubstep and bass album?

Really good, if I may say so. And over the last few months I’ve heard a hell of a lot of music. KIKO can be called electrotica, short for electronic erotica, because this album has a number of tracks which sound amazing, in fact I found absolutely none of the songs to be even a bit uninteresting. All the songs are on the point, and the bass drops are godly. Quite a few of those A-bomb jokes must have been cracked in reference to these songs for sure. And sometimes when Panda Eyes goes over to the glitch hop side or gets it all to accelerate to peak velocity, it’s goddamn amazing.

Does the album falter at all? Maybe, but I’m not one of those guys who’ve found the flaws in them songs. I just put on Panda Eyes and lose myself to those electronic plays.

The album has 16 tracks in all :

  1. F**k off
  2. Weed N Fries
  3. Sky Race
  4. Teminite and Panda Eyes – Highscore
  5. KIKO
  6. The Lights
  7. The Returning
  8. Colorblind
  9. Panda Eyes & DatPhoria – Keep Going (ft. Cozy)
  10. ILY
  11. On my own
  12. Love Game
  13. For You
  14. Panda Eyes & Teminite – Adventure Time
  15. Crystal Cave
  16. Miracle

I like the DBZ reference there…

The tracks that really stood out for me were KIKO, Colorblind and the two tracks in which Panda Eyes collaborated with Teminite. Highscore and Colorblind were actually some of the tracks that made me join the electronic bandwagon. But in an overall sense, any of these tracks can hold their own and more, even if they hadn’t all been parts of a brilliant album which KIKO is.