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Just a couple of days ago I paid a visit to a coffee stand to meet up with my ex-boss, D. He was in the run to become a candidate at the last general elections, but at the age of 27, D decided to leave politics and became a barista, brewing cups after cups of specialty coffee for his customers. No doubt, a coffee business is not an easy business, and I can see from my time there at the coffee stand that business is not exactly brisk - D admits that business is “slower than usual”. D had a law degree from a reputable university in the United Kingdom. He could have become a lawyer and made better money than being a barista. He, instead, took the exam to become a certified barista, and became one. He, together with a partner, set up a coffee stand, and have been brewing cups of coffee ever since. You’ll be surprised at the people who stop by at his coffee stand, people including established politicians and the big bosses of huge corporations.

Now, the question is, why am I talking about all these? The simple answer is because I’ll be discussing Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu-ka? (English: Is the Order a Rabbit?) an anime with a pretty similar setting, namely in a coffee cottage and with three cute lady baristas. The longer answer would be because of the plot of the anime, and I would like to quote Chino in the anime “…when I consider the customer who come seeking a place of respite to enjoy a cup of coffee away from the breathless pace of modern life, it’s all worth it.”

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu-ka? is an enjoyable anime, one which gives you no stress of life at all. It is set in a colourful traditional town-village with a canal through the town. The usual hustle-bustle of the city is absent and the air is fresh and free of pollution. The village seemed so safe that even school-going children are allowed to held their family run shops or take part times jobs. Lots of wild rabbits can be seen running around town.

Our protagonist Cocoa, an airheaded girl who resembles Yui from K-On a lot, moved into the village as a transfer student in the first episode of the show and settled down at a place where the ground floor happened to be a coffee shop by the name of “Rabbit House”, named so because they have a mascot - a fluffy snow white dessert rabbit. Rabbit House serves coffee and other hot drinks during the day, but at night it becomes a public house serving a different group of customers.

The current owner and bartender in the night time at Rabbit House, Takahiro, has a small daughter, Chino. Chino is still in elementary school and is several years younger than Cocoa and Cocoa was elated to learn that she has gained a little sister when she moved in. Initially Chino found Cocoa to be somewhat irritating due to her stickiness but later learned that she was actually secretly happy to have an older sister to rely onto – of course she never admitted it openly to Cocoa. I personally thought that Chino was as cute as a button and was really lovable even though she may be as cold or expressionless as Yuki Nagato or Toujou Koneko at times. Despite being the youngest in her group, she’s the one with the most sense, somewhat like Nakano Azusa of K-On.

Also working part-time at Rabbit House is a twintail girl Rize. A tsundere of sorts, she is into guns and tanks and seemed to have already undergone conscription despite still being a middle schooler. She somewhat reminds me of Sonya from the anime Kill me Baby. Besides Rize, we also have Chiya and Sharo who are also recurring characters in this anime. Chiya’s family owns a neighbouring rival cafe selling Japanese sweets “Ama-usa-an” and she was, rather unfortunately for the sweets, given the task to name the sweets they are selling. Who’d give a normal serving of sweets names like “Frozen Evergreen” or “Ephemeral Ophelia” or even “Moon and Stars Reflected Upon the Sea” (all translations from HorribleSubs and thus probably Crunchyroll’s translations). Chiya is voiced by none other than Sugar-san Satou Satomi who also did the voice for K-On’s drummer president Tainaka Ritsu and I was surprised as Chiya wasn’t as hyper as Ritsu but appeared much more refined. On the other hand, Sharo (sounds a lot like the English Sharon to me) on the other hand lives next door from Amausa-an, and works as a meido in a meido-kissa selling herbal tea. She thinks she is poor and tries to hide it from everyone but miserably fails somewhat like Azuki Azusa from Hentai Ouji. Sharo looks up to Rize as she goes to the same elite school as Rize and thought that Rize-senpai was pretty cool and brave for being able to chase away the wild rabbits which she is very afraid of. This sounds weird but Sharo gets high from coffee just as normal people get high from alcohol and as such she avoids anything with coffee at all costs (including coffee flavoured milk), well unless if she is unhappy she’d go for a coffee binge lol.

Now, there seem to be an unresolved mystery in the anime. The entire story of the anime seem to suggest that Tippy the fluffy rabbit mascot of Rabbit House is none other than Chino’s grandpa, Takahiro’s father and the old man who founded Rabbit House himself. Lots of hints were dropped in every episode like pieces of puzzle to the effect, like how Aoyama the novelist was writing a novel entitled “The Barista who became a Rabbit” and had sought advice on writing the novel from the old man himself years back, and how Takahiro was heard calling the rabbit “dad” and having an argument with the rabbit. However the pieces of puzzles were never complete as many questions were left floating: how? why? when? where? In one of the conversations between Chino and the rabbit it was suggested that it just suddenly happened one day and they accepted the fact that the rabbit is the grandfather. In a way, it was kind of supernatural to have a rabbit capable of talking like an old man, or to have the soul of an old man take over the body of a rabbit, but nevertheless the anime managed to make it a cute and fun occurrence but in real life anybody would be shocked to see a rabbit talk.

Besides the plot, I also enjoyed the opening theme "Daydream cafe" - the shorter version of the music video of the seiyuu dancing to the opening song can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4faD6XrGoVY. You’d go “kokoro pyon pyon” all day after listening to the song for a while, lol.

To conclude, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu-ka? was pretty enjoyable. There is nothing objectionable about the anime besides some fanservice scenes of girls holding guns in their underwear, but even that is so mild that I doubt a kid’s mind would be corrupted by it.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
02 August 2014 @ 08:25 pm
 photo Bt4fdhKCQAAIdswpnglarge_zpsd1a98db9.png

In the recent 15th Odaiba Memorial Day held on 1/8/2014 which was broadcasted live on NicoNico (I heard those outside Japan were not able to watch the live show) they have announced a new Digimon show which is to be released in Spring 2015 (which basically means 1st quarter of 2015 if I am not mistaken).

The show, based on my limited understanding, will feature Taichi, 17 years old (that's odd. Taichi would have been 26 in the year 2015). I may be wrong, but I am predicting that it will be in a movie instead of a full blast 12 to 52 episode series.

Will it feature the members from other series, i.e. Tamers, Frontier, Savers? If so, how will their interactions be with the original seven Digidestined?

You know, the Digimon kid inside me is jumping up and down in full excitement for this news. Of course, most of us Digidestined (i.e. those born pre-1995 or so) would have grown up so I am not very sure of the response from others, but for me who grew up watching Digimon shows and listening to Digimon songs, I am thrilled! You don't know their huge library of songs, OST, character image songs, and even Christmas songs! I used to share them with my friends back in junior high school and we used to sing Yuuhi no Yakusoku together. Hell, I still have Hikari's Reflection playing in my car's CD player up to today! Because of that it is going to be very emotional for me to see how the original casts like Taichi and Yamato are doing now in their high school days.

I can't wait for Spring 2015 to arrive. Fellow Digidestined, are you the same as me?

Current Location: Malaysia, Petaling Jaya
Current Mood: excitedexcited
15 July 2013 @ 04:15 am

This is a review of a 24-episode science fiction kodomo anime series entitled Dennou Coil.
Although the main target audience of this anime series is “kodomo” or children below the age of 12 (i.e. pre-teen primary school children), at this point I have to clearly state my doubts as to whether children of that age would be able to fully appreciate the story and learn something from it. Those children who are able to understand and fully appreciate the moral of the story of Dennou Coil, I’d dare say, would have had the understanding and appreciation of a normal teenager, or even perhaps an adult. What I meant was that it is normal for such appreciation to surface only during the teenage or adulthood. Indeed this is one anime many members of the targeted audience would easily find boring, while late teenagers would enjoy.

The story of Dennou Coil is set in a fictional city Daikoku in a future not too distant from the present where technology had advanced to the stage where computer monitors, computer keyboards and even cellphones have become nearly obsolete due to the invention of special glasses that can directly perform the functions of all the above gadgets. With the glasses on, the wearer (and also other wearers of such glasses) could see virtual items as if they were real and these items blends in perfectly with reality. When I use the term ‘items’ I am being very general as I am referring to non-living things like virtual iPads, walls, explosives, etc, but also ‘other living’ thing like virtual pets, viruses and anti-virus units (Satchiis). Apparently such a technology has become so advanced that it is deemed safe to have even children wearing them on a daily basis, only taking them off when going for a shower or sleeping – our protagonist Yuko received her glasses and her virtual cyberpet, Densuke, when she was only four. I personally thought that children shouldn’t be allowed to use technology as a tender age – they’ll end up being dependent onto it for the rest of their lives.

Anyway, back onto Dennou Coil, the main story revolves around Okonogi Yuko the protagonist and her virtual cyberpet Densuke. I shall refer to Yuko as Yasako so as not to confuse with another major character also with the name of Yuko. The first episode of the story starts off with her family moving into Daikoku because her father was job-transferred into the city. On the first day in the city itself Yasako and Densuke were separated from each other. Fortunately Yasako managed to obtain the services of one Hashimoto Fumie who manages to rescue Densuke who was trapped in an ‘obsolete space’. Later they further found out that Densuke was infected by an Illegal, another word for computer virus.

The story further expands from here onwards and it gets more and more interesting. It appears that Fumie is a member of the Coil Investigation Agency which is headed by one old lady by the name of Megabaa, who appears to be none other than Yasako’s grandmother. Surprise surprise! Megabaa owns a ‘cybercandy’ shop and also appears to be a specialist in making Metatags. Metatags are mainly used in the virtual world where certain effects can be achieved, like making a brickwall or beams. In return for Megabaa’s help in creating a Metatag to cure Densuke from the computer virus, Yasako joined the Coil Investigation Agency as member no.8 – Megabaa herself is member no.0 and Fumie is member no.7. Later in the story other members of the agency would be known, but I shall not reveal them here as to do so would amount to revealing juicy spoilers, but I can safely reveal that Yasako’s father is member no.1 having being coerced to join by his mother, lol.

Fast forward to the middle of the series, the audience is introduced to more secondary characters like the other Yuko (also known as Isako) and Haraken, the person whom Yasako has romantic interest in (despite being shorter than her, ahaha). Throughout the series Isako is treated like a protagonist for her actions in seemingly going against the ethics of the cyberworld by targeting Illegals and Metabugs. Metabugs are the raw material for Metatags and are therefore very valuable in the cyber market. However, it was later revealed that she was doing so to bring back her brother who she thought died in the cyberworld. A twist in the plot turns things absolutely upside down when it was revealed that Isako was merely a pawn being used by another former member of the Coil Investigation Agency to carry out his revenge against those who have stolen his idea. In the midst of all the conflicts are lots of juicy plots and heavy emotional scenes that I shall not discuss here to prevent revealing too much spoilers.

Let me just make it clear that this is anime series is one serious stuff, no joke or comedy or fanservice or any of that nonsense new anime series nowadays would have. On the contrary it is jam packed with all the educational good values that any parents would want their children to have, i.e. friendship, family, healthy competition and rivalry, etc. More importantly it makes you think critically, that there is always another side to a story and not to take things at face value.

Anyway since we’re already there, I’d like to note that this anime also dwells in how humans being emotionally attached to virtual cyberpets. Well actually the anime itself never raised the issue – I am the one raising it as my discussion here. So, what’s the issue? Well, think about it this way: cyberpets not even real – they’re mere data and you cannot touch them! For some of you out there you may think that this is not a problem at all and you might find it acceptable – if so then you might enjoy the visual novel “Digital: a love story” where you’ll find enjoyable the eerie similarity of the protagonist being emotionally/romantically attached to artificial intelligence he met on the internet in a BBS. I personally find it creepy, somewhat like how the protagonist in Eve no Jikan felt initially towards robots, that he shouldn’t treat them like human for the simple reason that they’re not humans. (I’ll review Eve no Jikan soon and you can read about it later.) Anyway, the question for you readers to ponder upon: why take care of virtual pets when you should instead put that effort into taking care of real and live animals who are suffering out there, some fighting the real risk of extinction?

Anyway back on topic, there is only one ending and one opening theme song throughout the 24 episodes. I enjoyed its opening theme pretty much, but I thought that its ending theme is pretty bland. Art is pretty decent (you’d think of Sazae-san or Doraemon) and would appeal mainly to children more. As a conclusion, I’d give Dennou Coil a 7.9/10 and would recommend it.
03 February 2013 @ 03:55 pm

Just imagine yourself attending this high school in a place some distance away from your home town. You have been allocated a room in a two storey dormitory house. Here, you stay together with a few others who attend the same school and would have your meals together. You and the others take turns to do the household chores and do the cooking. Doesn't this feel like... pure youth? Indeed, youth is a point or stage in life when people don’t mind the fuss and inconvenience of staying together and helping each other with the household chores. This kind of youthfulness can be clearly and deeply felt and seen in the ongoing anime series of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanoujo.

Some may have realise by this point that the feeling of youthfulness as described above is not really a rare theme in animes. In fact it is sometimes overused to the point it becomes piecemeal and predictable. A classic example of an anime which goes deeply into this theme and leaves a strong impression into its viewers is none other than Honey & Clover (also Hachikuro). In fact, Honey & Clover went a step further by going into adulthood at the end of the story from a humble youthful beginning. In this article I am reviewing not Honey & Clover but Sakurasou no Pet na Kanoujo. Nevertheless, the similarities between the two shows are so striking that I couldn’t help but do a comparison of the two.

In Hachikuro, we have Yuuta Takemoto, Takumi Mayama and Shinobu Morita living together in an old, worn out apartment complex whilst attending art college. In Sakurasou, we have protagonist Kanda Sorata being moved to Sakurasou, a school dormitory infamous for its less than sane occupants - Kamiigusa Misaki, a genius anime creator who is hyper most of the time; Mitaka Jin, a top student who is very good in writing essays and wants to be a playwright; Akasaka Ryuunosuke, a genius computer programmer and hacker; and finally Sengoku Chihiro-sensei, the dormitory teacher who is not only lazy, but is also an alcoholic. As he isn’t allowed to keep pets at his then dormitory, Sorata was given two choices: to either throw away the stray cat he has picked up, or to move to Sakurasou with the cat. Sorata chose the latter and moved out of his old dorm and into Sakurasou. As a result, he would end up being known as an animal lover who sacrificed his life of sanity to keep stray cats as his pets. In a way, Sorata is more entitled to talk about animal rights than dear SW1M leader Sharifah Zohra Jabeen.

Anyway, back on topic, there are a few major differences between the two animes. First of all is the age-group of the target audience: Hachikuro is listed as a josei (age 15 to 44) anime whilst Sakurasou obviously targets teenagers. As a result, while both animes (age 13 to 18) have certain elements like jealousy, envy, admiration and love triangles, Hachikuro deals with these elements in more detail and seriousness while in Sakurasou it is just touch and go. The second difference is that of the art style and the music. Hachikuro gives a more gloomy and serious kind of atmosphere while Sakurasou gives its audiences a more cheerful and bright kind of scenery. To compare, Hachikuro is like brown and olive green while Sakurasou is more pink and light purple. Both anime is comedic, but as far as laughter goes, Sakurasou wins hands down. Hachikuro’s kind of gags are more of serious gags which makes you think deeply before attempting to laugh, while Sakurasou’s gags are, well, gags which makes you laugh out loud. Not to say Hachikuro is any bad, but as far as cheerfulness is concerned, Sakurasou is more cheerful.

Back to Sakurasou, as mentioned above, Sorata was forced to move into Sakurasou after refusing to abandon a stray cat. Shortly after Sorata moved in into Sakurasou, a transfer student by the name of Shiina Mashiro moved in as well. As Mashiro is the niece of Chihiro-sensei, it would seem only natural that she would be placed in the infamous dormitory filled with geeks that nobody wanted to move in. Little did Sorata knew that this girl would have a big impact on his aimless life as a student. Mashiro seemed to be a person who is unable to take care of her own basic needs. She does not know how to cook, nor does she know how to wash her own laundry, and neither does she dries her own hair. She goes stark naked while painting or working on her manga in her room, and does not feel embarrassed about it, or is totally unaware that she should be. As a result, Chihiro-sensei and the others held a dormitory meeting and unanimously made the decision to assign Sorata the “Mashiro Duty”, i.e. he would have to help her with all these basic things. To Sorata, Mashiro is only trouble, not that he would hate her for that, and rather, the opposite is more accurate. The way Sorata had to take care of her every chore made Mashiro seem like she is his pet girl, and thus the title of the anime “The Pet Girl of the Sakura Dormitory”.

However soon enough, Sorata found out that Mashiro is an amazing painter who painted expensive portraits while living and studying abroad. He realised that everyone else in the dormitory other than him had a very special talent, and that he’s the only “normal” person, and even the helpless Mashiro is someone of a different world in terms of talent. As a result, he forced himself to take on game programming seriously in order not to lose to the others, and improve himself in the same time. He asked and was given some guidance from Ryuunosuke as to the programming of a game. Soon, he even set a target to enter a college to study game programming.

As people grow up, they become more and more matured in that they start to become selfish towards themselves. They learn about how they can become tired of having to deal with a large group of people. They soon realise that they would prefer to stay with only one person, i.e. a partner, under one roof. It is sooner or later that people leave dormitories to find/start their own family, but to put it simply, to stay with friends in a dormitory in school is indeed a valuable experience which can only be obtained at a certain stage of life. You get to learn about how human beings are and how they react to certain things. These are experience that you won’t get in textbooks, but at the same time is important so that you can deal with society when you go out there after your formal education in high school, college or university. Stories like Sakurasou and Hachikuro shows the life of students in dormitory, but sooner or later all these students will each go their own way and the story ends there. But it does not mean that it all ends. Life goes on at another stage of life, but as far as we are concerned, that is to be discussed at another time.
31 December 2012 @ 11:41 pm

The year of 2012 is about to end in another hour or so in my country. To bid farewell to 2012 and to welcome the year of 2013, I hereby list down five anime songs of 2012 which in my opinion deserves the honour of being the 5 best anime songs of 2012.

At 5th placing is:

Rakuen Project - Ray
Opening theme of To LOVE-Ru Darkness, Released: 24 October 2012

At 4th placing is:

Coloring - Yui Horie
Ending theme of Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai. Released: 18 January 2012

At 3rd placing is:

Check My Soul - azusa
Opening theme of Amagami SS+. Released: 01 February 2012

At 2nd placing is:

Kokoro no Senritsu - The Choir and Sometimes Badminton Club
Ending theme of Tari-Tari. Released: 26 September 2012

At 1st place is:

Koubou - Kawada Mami
Ending theme of Shakugan no Shana III. Released: 25 July 2012

Other notable songs that did not make it into the top 5 list (in no particular order):
* Paradigm - Eufonius (Opening theme of Kokoro Connect), 18 July 2012
* Eureka - Sukima Switch (Opening theme of Uchuu Kyoudai), released 08 August 2012
* Nirvana - MUCC (Opening theme of Inu x Boku SS), released 07 March 2012
* Little Busters! ~TV animation ver.~ - Rita (Opening theme of Little Busters!), released 31 Octuber 2012

I have had other songs in mind as well (from Bakemonogatari and idolm@ster), but as they were not released in 2012, I couldn't list them here. Anyway, have a blessed New Year, everyone.