"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Anime Year in Review (Part 1)

I had considered doing a year in review for all the books I read, too, but if you look at my Goodreads page, I've read 153 books this year.  Then, I considered just writing about the books that got a 5 of 5 stars.  That's still 56 books, which will take up more time than any of us really have to devote to this blog.  So, instead, I'd like to look back on my year of anime series.  At the start of this year, I talked about finishing Death Note and Space Dandy, so I'll be avoiding those two this time around.  But, I'd like to talk about the other titles that I've checked out, both with the Brother and without.  There are some real gems here :)

January brought us on an emotional thrill ride through Death Note and Space Dandy, but then the Brother went back to school.  Left to my own devices, I picked up two anime that seemed like fun at the time: Love Lab and Eccentric Family--and thus, Spring anime season began.

Love Lab is a goofy shoujo about a group of students (from an all-girls high
Riko and Maki (Love Lab)
school) learning how to get the attention of boys.  The story begins when popular, tomboyish Riko catches the student council president, Maki, in the act of making out with a body pillow.  Maki begs her not to tell anyone, since this might ruin her perfect reputation.  Riko makes an off-hand comment that suggests she is popular with boys, so Maki recruits her to teach her how to find a boyfriend.  There are two problems, though.  First, school rules forbid the girls having romantic relationships, and second, Riko doesn't know the first thing about romance!  

Soon, the student council becomes a front for the girls' "love lab" as they test out ways to get attention from boys, such as different hairstyles, conversation topics, and kissing.  The pair are joined by brash Eno, timid Suzu, and conniving Sayo as they attempt to provide answers to their romantically challenged peers, while still performing their student council duties.
Riko, Suzu, and a giant paper fan
From the description, this anime sounds like it might veer into yuri (lesbian) territory, but surprisingly, it stays pretty innocent of anything sexual.  There are a lot of jokes and awkward situations, but for the most part, it is pretty wholesome.  It's a cute series, though.  Not something I would personally watch again (since I just don't go for drippy girly shows), but still an enjoyable way to spend a couple of nights.

Yasaburo (Eccentric Family)
Eccentric family, on the other hand, was a real gem.  This one tells the story of a family of tanuki, or Japanese raccoon dogs.  Just as in the mythology, these tanuki have the power to shape-shift, so they take the form of humans and live among other members of society.  The titular family consists of four brothers: tightly-wound Yaichiro; Yajiro, who turned himself into a frog and can't turn back; irresponsible Yasaburo; and sweet, but timid Yashiro.  Add in a cross-dressing mother; their despicable cousins, the Ebisagawa twins; and a cantankerous old tengu (crow demon) and you have the recipe for a perfect cast!

The story mostly focuses on Yasaburo, and without giving too much away, the
Benten and the Friday Fellows
central theme revolves around the death of the family patriarch.  As he used to be the leader of tanuki society, the rest of the clan is caught up in trying to elect a new leader in his stead.  Meanwhile, Yasaburo finds himself caught up with a mysterious group called the Friday Fellows, who are known for cooking and eating a tanuki every year as part of the New Year's celebration.  When the group's most dangerous member, the lovely Benten sets her sights on Yasaburo, he's in love...and also in great danger.

This is a great series if you're looking for something short, but very engaging.  I found it difficult to stop watching, and was disappointed when it was over.  But, all in all, this is an excellent series, and one which I would contend is one of my all-time favorites!

Stay tuned for Part 2: School Rumble and Cowboy Bebop.  It should be coming your way very soon!

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