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Himouto! Umaru-chan

August 28, 2015

Adapting the comedy manga “干物妹!うまるちゃん” by Sankaku Head into anime form, “Himouto! Umaru-chan” has been an absolutely hilarious comedy that I greatly enjoyed so far.
Even though the core plot of “Himouto! Umaru-chan” sounded like it might be interesting, had not added this comedy to my summer anime watch list, but immediately got hooked on the show when I started watching it on a whim a few weeks ago.

My initial hesitation about this anime came from how the plot synopsis described main character Umaru, a perfect young girl with great looks, terrific grades and behavior when out in public, but a lazy slacker who does nothing but game and consume junk food when at home. Most other franchises with similar characters unfortunately often portray them such that they become annoying.

Watching the first episode, was afraid that Umaru would just be a whiny brat with no redeeming qualities, but luckily her character is developed in the following episodes which makes her more balanced.

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A nice added touch that not only provides plenty of laughs but helps balance out and put into perspective all the attention ‘perfect’ Umaru receives is how her friends Nana, Kirie and Sylphynford each draw loads of attention to themselves from the public as well. Nana unwillingly draws lots of attention from onlookers due to her sizable bosom, while Kirie’s expression is usually a deathly stare caused by her shyness, and Sylphynford plays an exaggerated ojousama character with a competitive streak against her rival Umaru.

The cuteness of Umaru’s chibi slacker persona Komaru and all ensuing comedy aside, Nana and Kirie provide plenty of entertaining comedy too thanks to their hilarious reactions and facial expressions which never fail to make me laugh.

If you’re looking for a good comedy to watch, then I definitely recommend you try this anime.
You can watch “Himouto! Umaru-chan” on Crunchyroll.

Kantoku C88 doujin ‘Check My Idol’

August 26, 2015

Where Kantoku’s C87 book ‘Colors’ was rather different from the artist’s usual Comiket releases with its full page illustrations that emphasized the landscape and atmosphere in relation to the character depicted in them, the ‘Check My Idol’ book is a more typical Kantoku doujin.

Next to Kantoku’s penchant for check patterns, this summer Comiket release is obviously idol themed. The book not only features Kantoku’s mascot characters Kurumi and Shizuku in full idol mode, but also contains art of the girls from “Love Live!”, “The iDOLM@STER” as well as various other idol characters.

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Perhaps the inspiration for this idol themed doujin came from the ‘Tachiyoumi Senyou 36′ book which included an artwork of Miku and Riina from “The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls”?

Typical for all releases by Kantoku’s circle “Afterschool Of The 5th Year”, this just over twenty page doujin is mostly full color illustrations but ends with several pages filled with black & white line art sketches of works that appeared in other publications.
Read more…

Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!+

August 24, 2015

あかり~ん Following the hour long “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!” OVA that was released earlier this year, the first of two special episodes titled “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!+” recently aired, bridging the gap with the upcoming third anime season “Yuru Yuri San Hai!” that is scheduled to start next October.

Adored the “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!” OVA so was glad to see this first episode of “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!+” not only picks up the story where it left off last time, but also continues the trend of delivering the typical enjoyable, easygoing yuri school comedy that this franchise is known for.

Even though “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!+” is an anime episode of standard length, they managed to give a satisfying amount of screen time for the supporting characters from the student council after the initial focus on the four main girls.

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Particularly enjoyed how the episode was well balanced. The first half showcased the girls out in the park on a hot summer day having silly fun playing with water balloons, which included the show’s typical comedy and yuri innuendo, but it also had an enchanting atmosphere that is reminiscent of the better slice-of-life franchises.

The latter half where all the girls went through the photos taken during their summer camp trip was a nice link to the events seen in “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!” and provided plenty of comedy and cute moments too.

Seeing studio TYO Animations’ excellent work animating “Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi!+” after having produced the OVA, am convinced they will do a terrific job with the third season too. It is quite rare to see such consistency in terms of animation design and atmosphere after another studio takes over a franchise.

Can’t wait for the second episode and the new season “Yuru Yuri San Hai!” later this year.

Akagami no Shirayukihime

August 21, 2015

One of several summer anime was interested in but not quite sure if it would be worth to watch is “Akagami no Shirayukihime”, the anime based on the “赤髪の白雪姫” shoujo manga by Akizuki Sorata.

Am by no means a fan of the shoujo genre, after all I do not fit its target audience, but have watched a few shoujo anime like “Ouran High School Host Club”, “Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji” or “Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun” which I rather enjoyed, much to my own surprise. Hence felt it was worth to give “Akagami no Shirayukihime” a try and this show hasn’t let me down, quite the contrary.

Although this anime contains quite a bit of overused tropes like the damsel in distress, the nobleman falling for a commoner woman and others protesting their relationship, has plenty of characters that are shallow templates as well as a typical plot, it is still a decent and enjoyable anime even though most of it will feel familiar to veteran viewers.

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No doubt what helps make this a decent anime is the fact its two main characters are both strong willed people that walk their own path and find themselves increasingly drawn to each other, their love blossoming slowly over the course of time.

This of course all sounds syrupy sweet in what could easily be an overly idealized and hence unbelievable romantic affair. Luckily, while “Akagami no Shirayukihime” has been idyllic it has not been too over the top.

Considering the majority of anime I usually watch feature the all too typical male audience oriented romances, occasionally watching a shoujo anime which does approach its romantic plot differently feels refreshing.
If you like shoujo shows or anime set in medieval times filled with romance, then you will likely enjoy “Akagami no Shirayukihime”.

THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls season 2

August 17, 2015

Although I am still more of a “Love Live!” fan, adored the first “THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls” anime, so was quite keen on watching the second season of this anime that introduced the idols from 346 Production.

Although the original “THE iDOLM@STER” anime featuring the 765 Pro idols was enjoyable, personally liked ‘Cinderella Girls’ more, and its first season’s overall plot felt lighter, even though the girls had hurdles to overcome. It struck a good balance between screen time or cameo appearances for the large cast of 346 Pro idols and captivating episodes that focused on one or two of the girls.

From the first season, especially the episodes that focused on Ranko, Minami, Riina and Miku come to mind as exceptionally enjoyable and rendering the episode’s main heroine more captivating. Hence, am glad to see the second season continues that tradition as it recently aired enchanting episodes episodes that were all about Mirai and Mika, Kirari, as well as Chieri and Kanako.

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The first season had a plot arc that spanned the entire season which was typical for the idol genre with the girls having to overcome a major obstacle in their career. Considering that plot was wrapped up nicely in the finale, was curious what this sequel would be like. That obstacle is soon introduced though when a new director that radically changes the course of the idol branch arrives at 346 Pro, which may bring about the end of the girls’ dreams of being idols.

Of course, there’s no doubt that the series will have a happy end where the girls overcome this challenge, but that doesn’t make the show any less exciting or its episodes any less enjoyable.

If you like the idol genre, then definitely recommend you watch “THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls”, it is a solid, excellent idol themed series with decent production qualities.

Creative Gigaworks T40 series II

August 14, 2015

These past weeks, noticed that the left speaker of my Creative Gigaworks T40 computer speaker set increasingly began to exhibit crackling. Although its actual performance while playing music had not been adversely affected yet, started to look into acquiring a replacement set when troubleshooting revealed it was not related to cabling, connectors or interference.

Purchased that original Creative Gigaworks T40 speaker set back in 2008 and it has served me well since, especially considering it was used daily for all my music listening needs as I play music almost exclusively from my main computer using that speaker set.

Luckily, Creative has an updated version of this set available in their catalog with the Creative Gigaworks T40 series II. Purchased a set from an online store who had it in stock and offered a nice discount from Creative’s original retail price.

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There are several differences between the series II compared to the original model, mostly smaller design changes but there are some significant alterations like removing the dedicated power on button from the back and incorporating it in the volume button.

Wasn’t sure what to think of that change as you would need to set the desired volume each time after turning the speakers off and on, but the series II have a convenient sleep mode where they automatically power down after ten minutes when no sound is detected, and power back on within four seconds when sound resumes. This setting seems to be unchangeable, which some may find unfortunate.

A two speaker set that offers a nice, clear and full sound for playing mp3 music files at a normal volume is ideal for my listening needs, the Creative Gigaworks T40 series II fits that role perfectly thanks to having a tweeter, two mid range drivers and a bass port in each speaker. Tend to not turn up the volume much, and these speakers do perform great at low volume too, offering a full sound.

Charlotte

August 10, 2015

Read positive comments online about “Charlotte”, so decided to sample a few episodes of this new summer anime, unfortunately it failed to keep hold of my interest compared to other shows I had not planed to watch either but did got hooked on, like “Himouto! Umaru-chan” or “Akagami no Shirayukihime”.

The main reason I was not keen on trying “Charlotte” was because it is an original anime project by visual novel studio Key, who are known for their dramatic, sad storytelling. Together with animation studios PA Works and Aniplex, Key previously created “Angel Beats!”, an anime that is praised by many but which I actually didn’t like all that much due to its many flaws.

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Hence, was somewhat apprehensive about “Charlotte”, and based on the first few episodes I watched, felt that like “Angel Beats!” it might take itself too seriously. The show feels rather heavy due to the majority of the plot elements being overbearingly dramatic, most events that occur as well as the main characters their pasts and current lives are filled with agony and misery.

While a sad tale can be good when properly told and executed, have a feeling that “Charlotte” will increasingly become more dramatic to the point where the events that unfold are pure torment on the characters, and if there should be a silver lining or happy ending, it would not feel uplifting due to the gloom that came before it.

Granted that it may likely be due to my own personal taste not being suited to such a drama anime, but those of you who liked series such as “Angel Beats!”, “Air” or “Little Busters” might enjoy this show.
You can watch “Charlotte” on Crunchyroll.

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