27 May 2011

'Higurashi: When They Cry'

(CREDIT: to the creators of the video games and the anime)
Rank: 4.5 out of 5 <-- cute people scare me... o_O

"Please, uncover the truth. This is my only wish."
- Keiichi Maebara, "Spirited Away by the Demon, Part 4"

The picture above is my way of showing my frustration of the lack of Keiichi representation in any Higurashi product. *grumbles*

For some reason, no matter how scary a movie or show is, I get over my few hours of self-inflicting torture within a few days and move on. But Higurashi no Naku Koro ni? It's been nearly a week, and I'm still paranoid. Too many late-night viewings...

Without spoiling too much of the story, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (literally titled When the Cicadas Cry) is set in June of 1983 when Keiichi Maebara moved to the small town of Hinamizawa. While settling in during the warming summer, he befriends four girls: blue-haired Rika, mischievous Satako, bold and mature Mion, and Rena, the chick who puts her face on every single advertisement space for this show (must be that damned trademark weapon of hers.) ANYWHO. In each arc a series of various events occur that force these five kids to dive into the mysteries of Hinamizawa as a particular June festival arives.

Vague? Well, sorry. I don't want to say too much or I'll spoil some of the more important or interesting plot points or character development. But to say the very least, the story is not told in chronological order; to be blunt, everyone is in a time loop. Each arc begins at the start of June, covers the festival, unveils a mystery, and ends in late June. The next arc will go back to the beginning of June and follow the same formula. Once one gets used to this awkward way of storytelling, one can appreciate the various scenarios that play out for different characters. But the most helpful aspect of this is how everything is separated by "question arcs," telling a series of events, and "answer arcs," clarifying some concepts not well explained before.

To describe the show, first and foremost Higurashi is psychological horror. In each arc, one of the main characters plays a lead role and becomes a "victim" or a "villain" to his or her friends depending on the circumstances. It brings a unique experience to the character as us viewers can learn more about him/her by how the act, behave, and adapt to the world and people around them. Although each of the five characters get screwed at least once. Hell, I forgot how many times Rika and Keiichi die or how often Mion gets manipulated.

But what is so scary about teenagers becoming paranoid, killing people, or killing themselves? Atmosphere, buildup, and execution, ladies and gentlemen. This show knows how to lure you in with the thickening plot, great interactions, over-the-top yet natural reactions, and the intense scenes... gorgeous. It might be disturbing that I call the gory and graphic scenes of murder and torture beautiful, but there are no mindless insane slasher killers like Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers. This is gore done well: realistic, but not in your face; sleek, yet messy - duh; and disturbing - obviously. These scenes become moments and do not dominate the show at all. But when they do appear, believe me, it is hard to forget them.

The anime art is average overall, but the facial expressions made during reveals and climaxes are superb. The voice acting in Japanese is... eh. I really prefer Keiichi's voice in the English dub. Normally I don't care if I watch an anime with subtitles or voices in English, but I enjoyed the story in my mother tongue more. By my ears, everyone - except Rena - sounds great, but maybe I'm deaf next to the rest of the world.

Drawbacks? I love just about every character... except Rena. I know, what a shock. I found her to be almost useless because she is a combination of Rika's quietness and Satako's happy personality... just armed with a cleaver/hatchet/billhook/thingamabob. Despite having the best weapon out of everyone else (except the epic metal baseball bat,) I guess I just found her pretty useless overall. Another problem is that the Higurashi anime has two seasons: When They Cry and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (When They Cry Solutions.) Season one has four question arcs and two answer arcs while season two has the rest of the answer arcs to complete the story. At this point, I am on episode 5 of season two, and God, it feels like season four of Buffy...

Despite one needing to watch a total of 50 episodes to get the completed story behind this strange town, Higurashi is an anime I highly recommend to any horror, psychological, and mystery fan. Anime fans, check this out too. But if you get fearful easily over at least the sight of blood, save your soul and turn away.

I have on last request: check out the music to the show too. The opening and ending songs are heartbreakingly haunting and beautiful. I got them on my iPod after watching the show for three days. lol

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, in my opinion, strongly deserves a 4.5 out of 5. Great story, great atmosphere, great horror, great music, great f'ed up but lovable characters. You can't beat it.

Let's see how long it will take for me to get over myself... but cute people... *screams and hides under bed*

22 May 2011

Creeped Out Fangirl Is Creeped Out (o_O)

Looks like the eerie end of the world still hasn't arrived. Well, if the Bible only has one truth, it would be that no one will ever truly know when the apocalypse shall come. And until I die, I will laugh at such unfulfilled predictions. Besides, it would be more likely for me to get run over by a bus tomorrow.

Despite that, however, I have had my rarely high dose of creepy for the past few days.

Higurashi: When They Cry. That is all.

I guess my morbid fascination for horror will never die. heh... heh... 0_o

15 May 2011


(CREDIT: due to the mangaka.)
Rank: 3 out of 5 <-- a blast while it lasted

The first shonen anime/manga series I enjoyed. *wiggles fingers in the air*

As a kid I never found a series like Dragon Ball enjoyable. For one, I hated the animation (to this day I still find it ugly) and the various sequels (Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, etc.) and countless video games gave me headaches. I was never properly introduced to the universe and I am still selfishly reluctant to give it a try. Ironically I thought for a long time that I would not stand up for such a popular, multi-episode and multi-volume shonen fighting series... then Naruto came along.

I knew nothing of it when I first watched it when it debuted on Cartoon Network. It looked like an interesting show and I spent time every week watching the episodes. The next thing I knew, I got a hold of the manga and found sites with all sorts of plot summaries and spoilers. My fandom grew larger when most of my friends liked it and we all had our favorite characters. It turned out to be three years of watching and reading the series, writing fanfics (don't say a word), and obsessing about it with friends. Now I have calmed down significantly, but I occasionally check out Narutopedia and Mangafox for the story at this point.

So. Now to the critiquing.

I would be lying if I said the series was bad, but then again, it's not as great as its hyped up to be. At this point I am annoyed at how there are 539 chapters and a total of 435 episodes (both as of May 18, 2011) and the series STILL HASN'T ENDED. Sure, it's not as bad as One Piece, a rare treat for myself, or Bleach, which I gave up on around episode 60, but still. Things drag on for far too long, whether its because of flashbacks, conversations, or legthy battles. The anime suffers the most with this, especially when it has far more filler episodes than the number of brain cells a snail has.

In terms of plot it can go on, but it tends to be fairly easy to follow and doesn't start to get confusing and incredibly stupid until mid-late Part II. Anyone can argue when the idocy began, but I cannot stand bullshit, which is territory that the series is going through right now.

(TANGENT ALERT) To kill off characters and then to bring them back as animated corpses is a load of bullshit! This is an obvious sign of the mangaka trying to hard to draw out the story far more than it needs to! (TANGENT OVER)

The overall pacing - before hell breaks lose - is right between good and slow, but not torturous. The cast is very large and relationships are not well developed, but usually there is at least two of three interesting secondary characters. The main cast varies as well, but from Fangirl's point of view, there are only a handful of people I loathe in Naruto. (Sakura is not one of them. Go ahead and kill me, guys. XP)

For those of you who have read my "Origins of My Identity" page, you already know that I was at one point a Sasuke fangirl. You could say he was one of the reasons why I started to back away from the series as a whole. Once the major plot point that we have been waiting for arrived (and it was freaking awesome), you'd think he would have a resolved problem and would tone down a bit. But, this is a shonen series that likes to go on for eternity. His character stoops far lower than what is realistically possible. At this point he needs to die because he is beyond repair.

But I digress...

I will not call this the greatest series ever, but it does have some merit. There were things that made me cry, laugh, smile, hate, and throw fits. If nothing else, I - and still do -gave a crap about what was going on. It's only a shame that those good memories are tainted by the reality that now the plot suffers as the manga and anime go on... and on... and on... and on... and killing all the good characters... and reanimating them with techniques... ad infinitum.

Because of this, I cannot give Naruto anything above a 3 out of 5.

I guess I'll invest more in shojo manga, where there is an end to the story at some point. But thank you for the fun trip while it lasted, Uzumaki Naruto. :)

12 May 2011

'Midori no Hibi'

(CREDIT: to the mangaka. I can't draw and write a story simultaniously!)
Rank: 2.8 out of 5 <-- unexpectedly sweet

Reading manga has been something I have enjoyed for nearly four years, but I am anything but loyal to this hobby of mine. I go through a number of phases thanks to numerous series I find and look up frequently (ex: Naruto, Fruits Basket, etc.) For a while, I hit an unmotivating period when nothing pushed me to consider looking up new or updates of ongoing manga. Thankfully Mars kicked my lazy butt and I've been on a mini manga spree again. While roaming around the wonderfully worldly web, I ran into an anime review of Midori Days.

It wasn't the first time I heard of it. Back when I used to buy manga frequently, I finished a volume of Zatch Bell and at the last pages of the book were ads for other manga to try out. Midori Days was one of them and my WTF radar nearly fried. I mean, honestly: a romantic comedy about a boy with a girl on his right hand. Who could NOT see that and call it a joke? At least now that I have read all 85 chapters, it's a good thing it wasn't a joke.

Despite the silliness of the premise, Midori Days is a very fun and satisfying ride from start to finish. Seiji can almost fit in the "bad boy with a good heart" box, but how he is like a real teenage boy makes him very memorable. And if not that, he can be very cartoonish, which is hilarious at the right times. But a great bit of humor comes from Midori and how she interacts with Seiji. Depending on whether you read the manga or watch the anime, there are some moments that are greater than others (ex: the nightmare episode in the anime, the dragging unconscious Seiji to school chapter, etc.) Because of the days they spend together and his obliviousness to the girls who like him, Seiji and Midori's growing bond is very enjoyable. To be honest, I cried at one point at the end of the manga.

Great character development, however, is only present with the two leads, and that's it. For the rest of the cast, you either like them for their main traits, or you don't. It's not that they are bad, but they are two-dimensional

at best: nearly all of them has a small backstory and know about Midori. That's about it. Again, it's not horrible, but it can be dissatisfying at times. At the end of the day, the only secondary characters I found memorable were Ayase, Rin, Kuota, Miyahara, and Lucy.

I would prefer one to read the manga, because the story is better told in this medium. Seiji's emotional development is handled slowly this way, but the results are all the more satisfying. On the other hand - no pun intended - the anime deals with Seiji and Midori catching up with each other in real life in a more interesting fashion. The comedy is far better here too (the first episode. PERIOD.), but the plot suffers much more in the anime and in the manga. It might not matter too much, but I would go for the manga if I were you.

Two last things. There is some perverted humor albeit far more clean and refined than one might expect. Also, there is some fan service here too, but - like the perverted jokes - it is more of the fact that "it is there" than vulgar. Fangirl tends to hate crudeness (even mild stuff), but these two things did not take away the fact that Midori no Hibi is a very sweet and touching story.

Overall, Midori Days - the anime and the manga combined - deserves a solid 2.8 out of 5.

It'll take a while until I find another unique concept like this. Hopefully my manga/anime spree won't end soon...

02 May 2011

May Update

I haven't had the time to post many rants last month, but at least I got the abortion one up, done, and over with.

Anywho, this is my twelfth month blogging and it's kinda scary. At first I was sitting hopelessly at my desk, wondering it anyone would ever run into this, wondering if more than just Americans would take time to read, and wondering if this blog will flop while I was over on my trip last July. Thankfully, even as I look at my statistics, I get a few hundred views a month, local and abroad; some good friends comment every now and then; and some of my posts are read numerous times despite them being months old.

Sure, I might be a young blogger with a very small audience, but its enough to encourage me to come back at least twice a week. And because of that, I thank everyone. :)

May is just a month of whatever I feel like. But one thing I want to get up at some point is a review of Sucker Punch, a Type O Negative album (in memory of Pete being gone for over a year), and maybe a few other random things.

Once again, thanks to everyone who spends a few minutes every now and then to read my blog. I give you all virtual treats to nom on. *extends plate of treats*


PS - I'm now watching the Taiwanese version of Mars online, and so far, it is fantastic. If you haven't checked out my review of the manga yet, do so!

01 May 2011


Yes, I am aware of the inconsistency. But believe me: no "star-crossed lover" BS. The cover lies!!
(CREDIT: due to the creator. not mine.)
Rank: 5 out of 5 <-- So much fun in so little volumes T-T

My friends often accuse me of being extremely unromantic. Just because I hate Valentine's Day and find a boy handwriting a Shakespearian sonnet in a special card to be very cheap, that doesn't mean that I'm heartless! My favorite band plays nothing but love songs! I cry when I watch Titanic! I think about getting married sometimes! I have my own "perfect guy" image in my head! I read and watch romantic books, movies, manga, and anime! Is that unnatural and heartless? :P

But really, it takes a little bit to impress me; so how could Mars earn a perfect score from picky Fangirl?

I might have heard of this series while exploring Mangafox, but I never was introduced to it until a few months ago. I have taken private art lessons for a long time, and my teacher and I get to chat a lot when I work. We often talk about movies and TV shows; one she brought up was a live-action Taiwanese series based on this manga and shares the name Mars. Although she did reveal big parts of the plot, I was still very interested in one of the characters she described.

To describe what this series is like, I could call it a blend of Fruits Basket, Dengeki Daisy, and a cousin five times removed of Black Swan. I would use Fruits Basket because of the smooth flow of the story and the beautiful balance between the light and fluffy moments and the dark and eerie ones. Dengeki Daisy had some really sharp turns in mood within two panels that would often make my stomach drop, something Mars has in a less overwhelming way. Black Swan and Mars have one thing in common: ALMOST ALL OF THE CHARACTERS ARE MESSED UP.

Sure, the romance in this story is basic and a bit cliche, but the combination of characters, interactions, and situations made this series extremely impressive. There is A LOT of psychological tension going on throughout the story, and each character has his or her own issues. And believe me, fights, anger, and deaths balance out the cheesy romance. Just to give a hint of how bad some characters are:

There is one character who is a complete sociopath. He not only toys around with Rei when he is overcoming grief and shock, he also manipulates Kira to the point of nearly reenacting Rei's brother's death. That same character has no problem with treating people like they are less than garbage. Hell, he even killed a guy!

However, not to spoil too much, but I think Sei is the most f'ed up character of all.

But if you ask me, throwing characters with psychologically and emotionally traumatic pasts into a 15-volume romance series makes Mars all the more intriging.

Overall, Rei might be my favorite character, even though I dislike guys like him in real life (at least the playboy part of him.) Although the events and characters might not be completely realistic, everything worked well for what they did. I can't say Kira and Rei are the best couple ever, but their relationship was very cute and enjoyable. (And there is no destiny bullshit! WHOOT!)

My only regret is that I read this too quickly: it took me two days to finish. :'(

For a long time, Fruits Basket was one of my favorite manga for the well developed characters, holeless plot, and beautiful storytelling. But now I think Mars will take its place, because it does all of those things better and then some. This series, which I highly recommend to almost anyone, deserves a perfect score.

Now I really need to find that Taiwanese version so bad. My art teacher said it was hilarious...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...