Author Archive

Why You Should Come to E-Board (or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Meetings)

Friday, October 24th, 2008 CJAS

Every Friday (well almost. We don’t meet during the summer, etc.), an almost important group of people meets in room 158 in Goldwin Smith Hall at 5:00pm for an hour or so.

Who are these people? (Why do they have no lives?)

They are CJAS’s E-board!

E-board (technically, Executive Board) runs the CJAS you have come to know and love (fear). And you know what? You should join them!

Joining E-board gives you the opportunity to submit and vote on future anime series we show during the semester and marathon, lets you offer ideas for events, and allows you the opportunity to shape CJAS.

Well worth an hour of your life once a week, hmm? There are a few restrictions – you have to show up for a certain number of meetings before voting (no stuffing the metaphorical ballot box, please), and you have to be an official CJAS member.

The benefits are obvious, the drawbacks slight, and you get to meet such interesting people!

Come to E-board!

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Anime Music

Thursday, October 16th, 2008 Music

I’m starting this article out with a disclaimer: I am not a music major. I cannot play an instrument. I am a tone-deaf civil engineer.

That being said, if I can appreciate the music in anime, then its gotta be good.

While there are some (alright, a lot of) anime shows where the music is forgettable, there is still a large number that are worth watching at least in part because of the music. Why is this? Music for Western TV, and in particular Western cartoons, is rarely worth noticing other than as a cue for emotion. I can only think of one or two Western TV shows where I actually noticed the music for its quality. (In case you were listening, this includes Firefly, which has very good quality music. However, the music is almost entirely supporting. It also includes Cold Case, where the music is very noticeable. For the latter however, the music is pre-existing, taken from whatever time period the episode’s crime took place in).

Gundam SEED

Gundam SEED

And yet anime – a weekly, serialized cartoon show – consistently turns out series with amazing soundtracks. Gundam SEED, Rurouni Kenshin, anything by Yoko Kanno—even people who hate the series will admit that .hack//SIGN has amazing music. An amazing amount of effort is put into the soundtrack of anime shows; it is made to fit the type of show. Gundam SEED’s music, for example, is notably militaristic. Themes are composed for particular characters, for battles, for showdowns, even just for a particular moment. Anime music is also far more likely to have voices in the background music than Western soundtracks. This is especially noticeable in .hack//SIGN, where a good third to a half of the music has vocals.

Finally, and perhaps most interesting, is the theme songs for anime shows. Where Western TV shows tend to either acquire their themes from an already existing song (CSI) or write 30 second or a minute long song byte (Firefly, Psych) for their themes, anime shows have full length songs written for their themes. That means people can listen to the song on the show, and then go enjoy the full version, or vice versa. The themes are also often performed by famous and professional contemporary bands.

All in all, a lot more effort seems to have been put into anime music than is existent in Western entertainment for anything less than a Hollywood blockbuster. This is a pity, since at least part of the reason I’m still watching .hack//SIGN is for the music. Maybe if CSI had some interesting background music, I’d be watching that instead.

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Manga Review: Legal Drug

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008 Manga Reviews

Legal Drug
Author: CLAMP, 2000 – on hiatus
Volumes: 3 (of 15)

If xxxHOLiC is a full-course Japanese meal and Cardcaptors is cake and ice cream, then Legal Drug is a tantalizing appetizer… for the right kind of reader.

Currently unfinished at three volumes, Legal Drug is predominantly episodic, with hints as to the back story of the two main characters. The story follows the Green Drugstore’s two employees, who bear a striking resemblance to the boys of xxxHOLiC. Kazahaya is essentially Watanuki with blond hair, and Rikuo is Domeki with moderately more expression. They tend to fight like cats and dogs (or rather, Kazahaya fights, while Domeki—er, Rikuo—winds him up). But there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and each of the boys has a special ability, which they use when their pre-cognative boss sends them out on “special errands.”

Despite the characters’ resemblance to those of xxxHOLiC, the story is well worth reading for its own merit. In particular, the reasons for the constant conflict between the two characters is different, and what slight information we have about the two’s back story is extremely interesting. Though it’s currently on hiatus until CLAMP finishes xxxHOLiC/Tsubasa, it may not be too long until more volumes become available.

Shonen-ai Note: Much more prevalent than in a lot of CLAMP’s other stuff. Kazahaya and Rikuo have more than a few “moments,” and the drugstore owner and his friend act like a married couple. Make sure you can handle shonen-ai before you read this manga.

Continuity Note: Legal Drug is in the same world as Suki (some of the characters are the same) and xxxHOLiC. At one point, Watanuki from xxxHOLiC enters the store to get a hangover cure. There’s another link, but it’s more fun to find out for yourself.

Anime Adaptation: None.

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Manga Review: Cardcaptor Sakura

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 Manga Reviews

Cardcaptor Sakura
Author: CLAMP, 1996 – 2000
Volumes: 12 (published in English by Tokyopop as Cardcaptor Sakura 1–6, and Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow 1–6)

The Clow cards have escaped from their binding, and Sakura must recover them with the advice of the card’s stuffed animal guardian Kero-chan and the technology and fashion of her best friend Tomoyo!

Yes, its magical girl, but it’s CLAMP magical girl, which makes all the difference. The artwork is gorgeous – cute, gentle and upbeat – and the plot line still seems new and interesting despite the proliferation of the magical girl genre. Refreshingly, Sakura doesn’t need to use her magic to boost her self-esteem. Her male counterpart knows about her powers, short-circuiting a lot of the irritating poor-communication/mistaken-identity plot lines.

Although an in-depth analysis of the relationships involved in this manga might disturb the reader, Cardcaptor Sakura is so cute, it doesn’t matter. It manages to be sweet without cloying. It has danger and emotional change without slipping into angst. The magic is well thought out, more or less consistent, and mostly makes sense. Well worth reading by both genders. (Real men read CLAMP!)

Shonen-ai/Shojo-ai Note: Except for one paring, all shonen-ai/shojo-ai inclinations are mild and one-sided. And while some are “You don’t want to think about this too much,” they’re easy to ignore. One pairing is reciprocated. Maybe. Possibly. Only CLAMP could have one guy say to another, “You are my most important person,” and still have that be a debated pairing. All but the most stubborn dissenters acknowledge that the two are a couple. (Though this raises the question, if they dislike slash so much, why are they reading CLAMP?) If there is a rating less than G, then Cardcaptors gets it. Also, yes, I was being annoyingly vague on purpose.

Continuity Note: Things from Cardcaptor Sakura appear in xxxHOLiC. Whether this means they’re in the same world is up for debate.

Anime Adaptation: I’ve seen only a few episodes of the anime. The art transferred surprisingly well, though simplified, and the tone of the series is consistent with the manga. Of course, there are more cards to capture in the anime, as well as additional characters. However, I’m not sure how well the larger plot lines survived. If you’ve got the time, watch it. Nice and heartwarming.

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Manga Review: Tokyo Babylon

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 Manga Reviews

Tokyo Babylon
Author: CLAMP, 1990-1993
Volumes: 7

Tokyo Babylon is one of CLAMP’s most classic works. The prequel to X, it sets up the back story to two of the most fascinating secondary characters.

The manga starts out episodic, with the medium Subaru dealing with various ghosts, spirits, and supernatural phenomena. With him is his cheerful sister Hokuto and their friend Seishiro. For most of the beginning of the series, it stays optimistic, despite the often serious or depressing nature of Subaru’s cases. However, a dark current surfaces as the tales go on. It’s somehow connected to a certain folktale: that beneath every cherry tree is a corpse; its blood turning the tree’s white petals pink…

Tokyo Babylon is a classic, and for a good reason. Well-written and eerie, it makes for a very interesting read. It is also short enough to keep from being either a large time or money sink. The only problems people might have is with the art style or the clothing styles. Eventually, however, both these things become integral to the feel of the manga and the characters, making Subaru’s shift in clothing at the end that much more startling.

Shonen-ai note: The main pairing, with varying degrees of seriousness, is Subaru/Seishiro. However, nothing romantic happens past a kiss—if that. Definite G-rating in terms of slash.

Continuity note:
Tokyo Babylon exists in the same world as X, Clamp School Detectives, Clamp School Defenders, and Man of a Thousand Faces. Also, at one point in xxxHOLiC, Yuko mentions Subaru in passing, which would put Tokyo Babylon in the same world as Legal Drug; Suki; xxxHOLiC; and by extension, Tsubasa. However, Yuko is also known as the Dimension Witch, and it may not be the same world at all. The characters of Tokyo Babylon also show up in Tsubasa, radically changed.

Anime adaptation: Bad, very bad. Only the most hard-core CLAMP/Tokyo Babylon fans would get any enjoyment from the OVAs. Don’t watch it. Please don’t watch it.

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