Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekly Anime Round-Up: The Hodge-Podge Edition

Weekly Anime Round-Up

Every weekend, Nagareboshi Reviews will post micro reviews of the anime it's been watching over the past seven days, usually shows that are ongoing or don't warrant a separate post for 'initial thoughts'. Feel free to comment with the shows you've been watching this week as well!

Warning: Contains spoilers for the following series: Blue Exorcist; Durarara!!; Morita-san wa Mukuchi; Nyanpire; Prism Magical: Prism Generations!

It's kind of a long one this week. Read the post after the jump!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Manga Review: Natsume's Book of Friends GN 7

Natsume's Book of Friends volume 7
Author: Yuki Midorikawa
Viz Media/Shojo Beat
200 pages

Someone is attacking yokai and stealing their blood, and Takashi is dismayed to discover that the assailant is human! The more he investigates the attacks, the more danger he finds himself in as he digs deeper into the occult world of the exorcists. Someone is planning something horrible and even the help of Natori – actor and exorcist extraordinaire – might not be enough to save the yokai . . . or Takashi!

Spoiler warning: Slight spoilers for what happens in this volume are in the review below.

In this volume of Natsume Yuujinchou (I just can't get used to calling it by its translated name!), we get an eerily close work into the world of exorcists, examine the relationships of one Natsume Takashi, see yokai learning how to play shadow tag, and see one of manga-ka Yuki Midorikawa's earlier short works – which, it will surprise no one, involves the supernatural world blending in with the human world. All in all, another outstanding volume of manga that deserves praise as well as fannish examination. And, of course, plenty of squee over Nyanko-sensei being typical adorable stubborn-headed Nyanko-sensei.

Read the rest of the review after the jump!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Manga Review: Cross Game GN 2

Cross Game volume 2
Author: Mitsuru Adachi
Viz Media/Shonen Sunday
376 pages (2-in-1 omnibus edition)

Wakaba's last dream before she set off on that fateful day was of Ko pitching in front of a packed house at Koshien. Ko's been training every day since, trying to emulate the best pitcher he knows --- Wakaba’s sister Aoba. But will Aoba's seeming hostility toward him and a new high school coach who only cares about winning prevent Ko from fulfilling the dream?

Fewer current (current as in being published in English, natch) shonen manga series have swept me away, heart and soul, as Cross Game has. It brings me so much pleasure to see that after the emotional knock-out of a premiere volume, it has returned yet again for another 300+ pages of wonderful sports-related drama and humor that only Mitsuru Adachi could deliver. 

Not only is it typical Adachi – that is, typical Adachi being code for 'most excellent' – but it has a lot of something I'd been craving since volume one. More baseball! Actual playing! The second set of chapters released in omnibus format by Viz is dominated by a single baseball game in which school mates play against school mates and the varsity team goes to bat against everyone's favorite underdogs, the portable team.

Read the rest of the review after the jump!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Guest Review: Clannad ~After Story~ Part 1

Clannad ~After Story~ DVD Collection 1
Studio: Kyoto Animation, Key
Sentai Filmworks
300 minutes/2 discs

This week, Nagareboshi Reviews is proud to host a guest review from fellow blogger and IRL BFF Jeremy aka Gaosalad! He has kindly written a review of the first 12 episodes of Clannad ~After Story~ and allowed me to post it here! If you like what you see, make sure to visit his pop music blog which has tons of awesome posts on popular culture and music from all over. And make sure to comment if you like his review so he'll write me more of them! ♥

Clannad ~After Story~ is the animated version of the Key 'hidden arc' in the popular Japanese dating simulation game "Clannad". Once all the stories have been completed a special "After Story" pops up for players to see what happens after the two main characters Tomoya and Nagisa begin dating, eventually extending years into the future. The anime picks up a few months after the end of the first season. The summer break is over, and it's time for our cast to go through their final semester of high school.

Many people refer to the first eight episodes of this block as the "people helping" arcs. This is due to its continuing the same feel from the first season. Every arc focuses on a different character and their set of problems all leading up to a very dramatic ending. The first season cleared through all of the main characters, leaving the more minor characters to be explored in this season. The first three arcs cover Sunohara and his sister Mei, Misae the manager of the boys’ dorms, and Yukine the mysterious girl residing in the reference section of the library.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Manga Review: Black Butler GN 1

Black Butler volume 1
Author: Yana Toboso
Yen Press
192 pages

When a terrible fire claims his parents, Ciel Phantomhive must step up as the head of his father's company and as Earl Phantomhive. It would be a lot for the young boy to handle were it not for his faithful butler, Sebastian. Ever at Ciel's side, it seems there's little Sebastian can't do, whether it's saving a dinner party gone awry or probing the dark secrets of London's underbelly. He's almost too good to be true . . . or at least, too good to be human . . .

Huge honking caveat: I love Black Butler with all of my heart and soul – and I love Sebastian and Ciel, the butler and his master, with the heat of a thousand suns. That said, I will try my damndest to provide a fair and critical review of Black Butler’s first volume, released in English by the always quality and timely Yen Press. As someone who has actually read ahead of this volume – enough to know that this series is not a pure comedy manga – I find this volume rather misleading for new and prospective fans. Despite some hints that Ciel and Sebastian’s relationship isn’t what it seems at first blush, this collection of chapters is a mix of madcap humor and action that makes it seems like said things are the primary focus of the story. Which they are not; this book doesn’t even give any inkling of a plot beyond “Sebastian does awesome things and Ciel is a frowny rich boy”.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Initial Thoughts: Durarara!!

Initial Thoughts: Durarara!!

Spoiler warning: Discusses the events of the first five episodes. Do not post comments about anything past episode five, please!

In Tokyo's downtown district of Ikebukuro, amidst many strange rumors and warnings of anonymous gangs and dangerous occupants, one urban legend stands out above the rest – the existence of a headless “Black Rider” who is said to be seen driving a jet-black motorcycle through the city streets. Ryuugamine Mikado has always longed for the excitement of the city life, and an invitation from a childhood friend convinces him to move to Tokyo. Witnessing the Black Rider on his first day in the city, his wishes already seem to have been granted. But as supernatural events begin to occur, ordinary citizens like himself, along with Ikebukuro's most colorful inhabitants, are mixed up in the commotion breaking out in their city. (Hat tip to the good folks at MAL Rewrite for the series synopsis.)

The dazzling lights and sounds of Ikebukuro district – the strange people who inhabit it and come out at night – the Dollars gang that has no color of its own which dominates the streets – the Black Rider that patrols the city on its motorcycle faster than the wind – so what is the secret of this bustling commercial district that holds so many different nooks and crannies hiding the oddities of society? That, my friends, is the story behind Durarara!! – a colorful medley of other people’s stories meant to be seen as a massive narrative for the district of Ikebukuro itself. The identity of Ikebukuro comes through the identity of its citizens, and it is discovering who inhabits this space that we discover the true face of Ikebukuro in both the day and the night.

Read the rest of the post after the jump!

AMV Of The Week: Little Girls

This week's AMV pick won the first place award in the comedy category at Nekocon X. You really can't blame them for giving this vid the top spot, as it is utterly hilarious. There are just some couplings of anime and song that seem destined to fit together - who knew that Oingo Boingo and Azumanga Daioh fit so well together?

AMV: Azumanga Daioh - Little Girls
Author: blindniggasamura1
Music: "Little Girls" by Oingo Boingo
Warnings: Kimura-sensei being his typical pervert self. A video dedicated to the loli inside us all (not explicitly, though!)

For those who wished there was some sort of video tribute to Kimura-sensei's love for little girls set to a wacky song for the eighties, we have "Little Girls". The video and the song sync up perfectly, it's like they were made for each other without realizing it. The video maker even put some little easter eggs in the AMV; look out for a certain 4chan meme's seal of approval as well as a more-mini-than-usual Chiyo-chan showing up in a rather unlikely spot.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekly Anime Round-Up: The Short Edition

Every weekend, Nagareboshi Reviews will post micro reviews of the anime it's been watching over the past seven days, usually shows that are ongoing or don't warrant a separate post for 'initial thoughts'. Feel free to comment with the shows you've been watching this week as well!

Warning: Contains spoilers for the following series: Durarara!! (okay, not really!), Nyanpire, Morita-san wa Mukuchi

Durarara!!: episodes 1-5

I'm a little late to the DRRR!! but I have so many thoughts on what has been broadcast via Adult Swim that you can expect a full Initial Thoughts for the first five episodes tomorrow. Excited, are you? Get excited!

Morita-san wa Mukuchi: episode 2

In this episode – titled “Miki Is A Chatterbox” – we see the very antithesis of the ever silent Morita Mayu, I the form of said-chatterbox Miki. Every time she appears on screen, she literally can’t stop talking and her endless chatter usually turns into a stream-of-consciousness rant that would make Amy Pond proud. 

Funny enough, Miki and Morita make a pretty good team – even if Morita sometimes misreads Miki’s intentions and gets too close to her skirt. And thus a thousand and one yuri fics were born! If this show even has a fandom yet (of course it does, every show does!).

Nyanpire The Animation: episode 2

Welp, it's official - I have nyan-induced diabetes, that's how overwhelming cute this show is. It is also probably the least odious vampire-related anime I have ever seen. Does it have a plot beyond strange cats having adventures? Nope. Does it seem to have any asperations to evolve past its nyan-nyan funtime roots? Not even a little. But it is so fun to watch in such a short amount of time, I don't care. Especially when the latest cat to enter Nyanpire's world is one dressed like Masamune Date, down to the helmet and eyepatch - and suddenly a great amount of Sengoku Basara fans are interested in Nyanpire, aren't they? As they should be! Can't wait to see what the next odd cat looks like.

Sorry, short post is short. Still, share what you've been watching this week in the comments!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Initial Thoughts: No. 6

The story is set in No. 6, a future model city in 2013. Raised as a top-ranking elite since the age of 2, a boy named Shion lives in an exclusive area in No. 6. On the night of his 12th birthday, he rescues a boy who calls himself Nezumi (Rat). Nezumi ran away from the city's Special Security Area. From that moment on, Shion's life is changed forever...

This was one of my personal anticipated titles for the season – a Studio BONES science-fiction anime for the noitaminA block is right up my viewing alley. The story itself didn’t matter to me, which is probably for the better, since the summary itself isn’t terrible impressive. But you know what is? No. 6 – the show itself. The first episode is amazing because it is the anti-Fractale when it comes to storytelling: it is in a future setting where humanity has taken drastic measures to create an improved society and the protagonist is a young boy whose life is changed with the literal collision of someone society is not particularly keen on – except that in Fractale, all of this was hampered by the useless chatter of information dumps via dialogue and by the end of the first episode, most of the wonder of how the Fractale system worked on a daily basis was gone. 

Read the rest of the review after the jump!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

For The Love Of Art: 24 Colors ~Hatsukoi no Palette~

24 Colors ~Hatsukoi no Palette~ volume 1
Author: Kozue Chiba
Originally serialized in Shoujo Comic; tankoubon published by the Flower Comics imprint

Nanaka loves to paint. So when she enters high school, she gets excited at the prospect of jointing the arts club. However, there are only two members-- the mysterious Chihaya and the energetic Kento. They're both good-looking guys, and Chihaya shares Nanaka's love for painting!

I suppose this review could count as a License Line post as well, since none of the manga publishers in North America that print shoujo manga had decided to even give 24 Colors a second thought - even though it would be right up Shoujo Beat's alley, cough cough. There’s no risk in licensing it! It’s only one volume, it’s a self-contained story, and if it sold well enough, one could license some of Kozue Chiba’s other works – like the often lauded 7th Period Is A Secret, which was immensely popular when it first came out and for good reason. But this isn’t about 7th Period, this is about 24 Colors, a story about first love and art among young people.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Manga Review: Neko Ramen GN 1

Neko Ramen volume 1
Author: Kenji Sonishi
160 pages

Taisho was a former kitten model, who ran away from home and had a hard life on the streets...until the day he was saved by a kind ramen shop owner who later served as his mentor. Now Taisho takes pride in his noodles...and is easily angered when customers are dissatisfied! So step aside, Soup Nazi - there's a new cat in town!

I remember watching the Neko Ramen anime back when Crunchyroll was still hosting fansub videos. It was hilarious and quirky and clearly a labor of love shared between various creators, thus giving each animated short a different style and atmosphere than the one before. I had extremely high expectations for the manga when I heard Tokyopop had licensed it for English language release and now that I've had a chance to properly digest the first volume, I can say with confidence that all my expectations were dashed to the floor.

Put simply, the manga isn't very funny. A lot of the gags that shone on screen fall flat on the page. Even the basic premise - a cat that makes ramen - becomes excruciatingly dull to read halfway through. I imagine the manga-ka realized that he couldn't let this manga ride on the premise alone, so he started adding in different characters and back story for the stubbornly hard-working Taisho. But none of it actually works. It doesn’t help that the official English description for the first book completely gives away most of Taisho’s back story, so the utter absurdness of it all is lost on the reader since Tokyopop has seen fit to spoil them from the beginning.

To add to the unfunniness of it all, the art is downright atrocious – it is messy, ugly, and does nothing to add to the humor of any of the scenes. It has ugly art in an unfunny manga which for some reason is 4-koma but also has a large amount of non-koma manga chapters which I’ve never seen before in a 4-koma tankoubon before. The fact that the regularly formatted manga almost outweighs the amount of 4-koma material in this book makes me wonder why Sonishi didn’t just stick to one or the other. It would have been better in all 4-koma; a majority of the jokes don’t work well spread across several pages and are better contained in four panels at a time.

Overall, the Neko Ramen manga is a major hit and a miss. You’d be best advised to find the anime and leave the manga well alone. One thing is for sure: I bet Tokyopop regrets the major advertising blitz behind this particular title because it was not worth it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Manga Review: Soul Eater GN 5

Soul Eater volume 5
Author: Atsushi Ohkubo
Yen Press
208 pages

Warning: Review contains spoilers for the series so far!

On the night of DWMA’s anniversary celebration, every meister and weapon in Death City has gathered at the school for an evening of music and dancing. Little do they know that the witch Medusa is about to crash Shinigami-sama’s party. Trapping the meisters inside, the witch makes her way to the chamber where the First Kishin is imprisoned. Will the few meisters who’ve managed to escape be enough to prevent Medusa from rousing the madness that slumbers far below in the Kishin’s domain?

Reading Soul Eater, I've always found that some volumes work better on screen as animation and some volumes work better as their original manga counterparts. A series like this one needs the colorful vibrancy of its anime adaptation to make a lot of its scenes excel, but sometimes Ohkubo creates a collection of chapters that are so exciting and so emotionally enthralling that the anime has a hard time capturing the same feelings as in the source material. 

AMV Of The Week: Drawn Dream

Some AMVs are so gorgeous, so skillfully put together, that they should be presented without commentary lest words break the spell of a beautifully crafted presentation. Drawn Dream is one of them. It is arguably one of the best Natsume Yuujinchou fan vids in existence. Enjoy with all of your heart.

AMV: Drawn Dream
Author: Silent Man Anime
Music: "Life in Technicolour" by Coldplay
Warnings: None applicable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

News Post!

It would only make sense that on occasion, Nagareboshi Reviews let its readers know about some of the more awesome things going on in anime and manga these days. Therefore, enjoy this Wednesday night news post!

Yen Press: Miss Alexia Tarabotti has come to call! Yen Press has announced the debut of the series Soulless in their monthly manga magazine YEN+; it is an adaptation of the same teapunk series of the same name by author Gail Carriger - a dazzling world of steampunk and vampires and werewolves combined with Victorian sensibilities and parasols galore. Even people burnt out on the supernatural genre should check out this latest manga and pick up the newest YEN+ as soon as possible.

Vertical: Vertical's First Summer Blockbuster. Talking about A Caring Man, the thriller debut novel by Akira Akai. Looks to be an exciting read! I'll make my library buy it for sure.

Funimation: Amazing Anime Sales! Up To 60% Off! The sale on Dragon Boxes (box sets of remastered uncut Dragon Ball Z) sounds amazing. Of course, any time there's a sale, that's good news! :)

MangaGamer: Kara no Shoujo. The visual novel KnJ is out! I'm playing the free demo at the moment, but I can't imagine me not buying the game eventually. MG's releases are so quality, they are definitely worth the money. Warning: the game can get pretty gory - plus, it is a visual novel, which usually means the main protag gets laid. Multiple times.

Share your favorite anime/manga related news in the comments!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Manga Review: Naruto GN 51; Bleach GN 35

Reviewing the latest volumes of Naruto and Bleach today! Seems only fitting to put two of the most popular Weekly Shonen Jump series in one post, non?

Warning: spoilers for both volumes of these series!

Naruto volume 51
Author: Masashi Kishimoto
Viz Media/Shonen Jump
192 pages

Sasuke finally takes on Danzo, the leader of Konoha, determined to interrogate him about the Uchiha clan and what really happened between the political factions of Konoha and his brother, Itachi.

In this volume of Naruto, we have the showdown between Sasuke and Danzo, a true battle of superpowers - especially considering the firepower Danzo's got on his right arm and the abilities Sasuke's been able to wring out from his Sharingan. Meanwhile, a doppelganger of Sai delivers some startling news to Naruto: that Sakura's confession of love in the previous volume was just a cover so she could go and kill Sasuke by herself. As Sakura breaks away from her fellow shinobi to go after Sasuke, Naruto sneaks away from the watchful eyes of Yamato to follow suit. The end of this volume leads up to a Team Seven reunion that is sure to be explosive in a multitude of ways.

Monday, July 11, 2011

AMV Of The Week: Darker Than Ikack

For this week, we're taking a different approach to AMVs with the mash-up. And the best mash-up is taking two totally different shows and merging them together flawlessly - which is exactly what this does.

AMV: 【MAD】侵略!イカ娘「DARKER THAN IKACK -白の侵略 ...
Author: nitrilotriacetic
Music: "HOWLING" by abingdon boys school
Warnings: None applicable. Beyond some very scary squid girls.

A mash-up of Darker Than Black and Shiryaku! Ika Musume. Something so genius can't be possible and yet it is. Not only is it a remake of the DTB opening sequence with Shinryaku! footage, this video also contains fanmade promos and DVD menus. Now that is some serious fan dedication.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekly Anime Round-Up

Every Saturday, Nagareboshi Reviews will post micro reviews of the anime it's been watching over the past seven days, usually shows that are ongoing or don't warrant a separate post for 'initial thoughts'. Feel free to comment with the shows you've been watching this week as well!

Warning: Contains spoilers for the following series: Beelzebub; Blood-C; Blue Exorcist; Gosick; Tegami Bachi; Level E

Beelzebub: episode 10

A stray cat starts giving Oga some clingy unwanted attention, much to the irritation of Baby Beel, who starts showing his extreme jealousy through random shock attacks. However, Baby Beel and the stray soon become friends and end up going to playschool together, where they meet Kota, whose caretaker is none other than Aoi, the Queen of the Red Tails. Overall, a pretty fun episode full of Beelzebub’s trademark off-beat humor and in my opinion, more Aoi is always good, non? I’d love to see more of Baby Beel’s new feline friend in the future, as well as more Beel & Kota scenes. He’s getting pretty cozy with a human for someone who is destined to destroy humanity, a-yup.

Read the rest of my episode reviews after the jump!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Initial Thoughts: A Trio Of Titles

Tonight! We will be looking at the following series: Kamisama no Memochou, Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, and Nyanpire The Animation. So a show about NEETs solving crimes, a show about adorable Japanese girls in France, and a show about a vampire kitty. Variety much? Yes!

Initial Thoughts: Kamisama no Memochou

"It's the only NEET thing to do!"

Narumi Fujishima is barely a blip on anyone's radar, and that's exactly how he wants it. But after a chance encounter on the streets with a couple of suspicious looking kids outside a love motel, his classmate Ayaka ends up dragging him into a world of NEET detectives led by the eccentric shut-in Alice who lives in her tiny apartment filled with computers and stuffed bears. Despite Narumi's attempts to remain just 'one pixel' when it comes to not being noticed, his life has taken an unusually active turn.

First off, I did not realize going into it that Kamisama no Memochou would be 47 minutes long. Apparently it was a double episode? Well, I'm glad it was; I don't think I would have liked it as much if I had to watch it split into two parts. From what I hear though, I'll have to wait two weeks to watch the next episode. Bah! Normally it wouldn't matter except that I really really liked this show so far. Why? Let me tell you!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Manga Review: Cross Game GN 1

Cross Game volume 1
Author: Mitsuru Adachi
Viz Media/Shonen Sunday
575 pages (3-in-1 omnibus edition)

Cross Game is a moving drama that is heartfelt and true, yet in the brilliant hands of manga artist Mitsuru Adachi, delightfully flows with a light and amusing touch. The series centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street and the game of baseball. This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be.

I started reading this book while sitting in a hot humid Laundromat, back sticking to the plastic chair from the sweat pouring off of me, the lack of a breeze making everything even worse. I've been told that while I was there, a man was waiting for his laundry and just wouldn't shut up. Funny enough, I never heard him - my mind was in another place, specifically in Kitamura Sports and the Tsukishima Batting Center, where it too was a hot lazy summer and a young boy was spending every day at the batting center hitting home runs and winning socks. Never before had I felt so part of the story I was reading, or so emotionally drawn in that at one point I found myself near breaking into tears around the end of the first of three sections (and anyone who has read Cross Game will very well know what major event provoked this reaction).

Read the rest of the review after the jump!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Initial Thoughts: Morita-san wa Mukuchi

 Morita Mayu, a high school girl. She is extremely reticent and her silence and habit of looking at people's eyes straightly sometimes cause misunderstanding. The reason behind it is not because she doesn’t like to talk nor because she has nothing to say. The reason she rarely speaks is due to the fact she thinks too much before speaking, thus losing the timing to speak altogether. But she lives a happy school life with her classmates. (via MAL)

For an episode that is only three minutes long - including a super short opening title sequence - I found the premiere of Morita-san wa Mukuchi to be surpisingly sweet and satisfying. Morita the taciturn has great difficulties talkig to her classmates, but she has managed to find a balance between silence and speaking and has even made a friend - the talkative chatterbox Miki, who acts as the 'standard' high school girl with her fleeting crushes and adorable mannerisms.

In this episode, Morita finds herself in what is probably a typical one-sided conversation with Miki, who is going on about a cute boy she’s just seen. Morita finds herself remembering a lesson from her mother about maintaining eye contact with the person talking to her and it helps her get through the conversation with few difficulties. Some people might find Morita’s over-analyzation of everyday social events strange, but as someone who does this all the time, it makes perfect sense. What if I say the wrong thing? Did I take too long to reply? Do they think I’m selfish now? It’s nice to see an anime with a ‘taciturn’ protagonist such as Morita who is allowed to be quiet and overthink things without being seen as a freak.

(It also helps the character design is super cute and the color palette is pleasing to the eye. Yay, adorable aesthetics!)

So far, Morita-san wa Mukuchi looks like a fun little series to watch amid all the fantasy drama that will be premiering this month. I’m looking forward to the further non-verbal adventures of Morita and friends.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Initial Thoughts - Natsume Yuujinchou San

It's back! It's back! Strike up the band, start a parade, get the party started, Natsume Yuujinchou is back! I mean. Ahem. As a huge Natsume Yuujinchou fan since the anime started - and have since started reading the manga with equal amounts of love - the return of Natsume and company is a fresh breath in a season that isn't looking too great in terms of originality or quality.

Warning: contains spoilers for the episode described after the jump break.

License Line: All the Strange, Strange Creatures

What is License Line? Put simply, it's a bi-weekly feature on Nagareboshi Reviews in which yours truly posts about a certain anime/manga series that truly, desperately needs to be licensed and put on my shelves ASAP - from the obscure but well-deserving manga to the stream worthy but not yet DVD licensed anime.

For the first edition of License Line, I find it only apt to feature an anime series whose third season has just debuted on the fourth - the always charming supernatural slice of life known as Natsume Yuujinchou (夏目友人帳), also known as Natsume's Book Of Friends (as Viz has translated it for the manga's English release). That's right - an anime that is both supernatural and slice of life. How does Natsume Yuujinchou manage this precarious balance of seemingly opposite genres? With the greatest of ease and knowing when to keep one element from overwhelming the other.

What is Natsume Yuujinchou? Natsume Takashi has never had an easy life. Being born with the ability to see ayakashi - otherwordly spirits - Natsume has felt disconnected from the world of the living due to his abilities and from the world of the spirits due to being a mortal boy. Keeping this ability a secret has made his life extremely difficult and the idea of friends seem like a distant memory to him. When he inherits a mysterious book from his grandmother, Reiko, who also had the sight, Natsume's life is soon turned upside-down. His 'book of friends' contains the names of all the ayakashi Reiko met in her lifetime who she tricked into giving her their name, thus binding them to Reiko for life - but now that Reiko's death is leaking out into the world of spirits, everyone is itching to free their name from the book or capture the book themselves, gaining control over hundreds of ayakashi in Japan. With the snarky sidekick Nyanko-sensei at his side (an ayakashi trapped in the shape of a lucky cat), Natsume is on a quest to return the names of the ayakashi to their rightful owners as well as manage to balance his new entrance into the spirit world with his continuing life as a mortal teenage boy in the human world.

Why should it be licensed? Because this anime is quality with a capital Q. Watching an episode is akin to drinking a calming cup of tea during a lazy summer afternoon that fills you up slowly and, as you reach the bottom, leaves you melancholy in the best way possible. It can be compared to the equally balanced supernatural slice of life Mushishi, although Natsume Yuujinchou comes with a regular cast and a permanent setting along with a main character who isn't a wanderer and therefore is slightly easier to connect to. It is a beautifully rendered series in both art and story with an involving cast of characters (especially the wisecracking morally ambiguous Nyanko-Sensei) that will endear to any fan of XXXHOLiC or Amatsuki – although without the noodle limbs and the confusing storylines, respectfully.

Viz Media, make an honest franchise out of Natsume Yuujinchou? You already have the manga – it’s only perfect that they should bring out the anime as well. The fact that neither Natsume Yuujinchou or Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou are sitting on my shelves with my other anime DVDs is a sad fact indeed. Someone should correct it. And maybe, just maybe, release some Nyanko-sensei plushies as well? ♥

You can watch Natsume Yuujinchou streaming online at Crunchyroll!

Monday, July 4, 2011

AMV Of The Week: Set Them Up

I've been told first impressions make all the difference, and it's no different when it comes to starting a blog. Ergo, I can only imagine what my readers will think of Nagareboshi Reviews after this post, in which I bring to an AMV about traps.

What are traps? Put simply, it's a boy in girl's clothing. Don't say I didn't warn you! Oh, what a thing to post on the Fourth of July . . .

AMV: ♥ Traps ♥ [ Set Them Up ]
Author: hikikomoe (formerly Obsessivemuch)
Music: "Starstrukk" by 3OH!3 feat. Katy Perry
Warnings: NSFW. Contains some scandalous imagery and fan service. Also, Boku no Pico.

All kidding aside, this video is amazingly well put together. The editing is top notch, the music matches the video step by step, and the entire thing is an absolute treat to watch (especially if you like traps ♥). As someone who usually gets bored watching this kind of 'clip show' AMVs, I found "Set Them Up" to be entertaining and moved at a steady enough clip to stay from being dull without going too fast.

Plus, traps! I quite like traps, whether they be typical traps or 'reverse traps' like Haruhi in the Ouran series. Of course, not all traps are just boys in skirts or girls in pants. See: Kashimashi, in which the boy is put into a girl's body with no thanks to a pair of clumsy aliens who accidentally kill him with their spaceship. Whoops? Still, it ends up fueling a very entertaining yuri-filled 12 episodes (only twelve, because there is no OVA and there will never be an OVA rage rage rage I didn't want that couple as endgame WHY?)

If you want to know what anime was used to make it, you can check the credits of the video. I actually knew a fair number of them which surprised me - including Maria Holic, Sukisho, and the infamous Boku no Pico. Enjoy the fan video and don't forget to check back next week for a new AMV pick!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

First Post! In Which I Introduce Myself ♥

In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Okay, not a hobbit, a fangirl. And one day she decided to start a blog about anime and manga, because she apparently liked those kinds of things very much, and called it Nagareboshi Reviews because the idea of naming a blog after the Japanese for 'shooting star' despite her lack of fluency in the language pleased her. And they all lived happily ever after – the end. Or not.

Who am I? Sarah: a fangirl by birth and by occupation. I'd bet you never guess it but anime and manga are two of my most favorite things of all things. Really! My first anime series was Pokemon so that should properly date me, shouldn't it? My first manga came a little while after, back when Tokyopop and Viz and similar companies still sold series by the chapter, and it was either Cardcaptor Sakura or the Gundam Wing adaptation (with the hilarious Wing/G Gundam gag 4-komas at the end of each one - shame the GN release cut those out!).

I remember Toonami and proper Saturday morning anime, 4Kids and WB and Fox Kids and the advent of adult swim's anime line-up. I remember the first Shonen Jump (and the first Shoujo Beat) and even Super Manga Blast! – and I remember when single issue manga started disappearing and tankoubon editions replaced them completely. I remember anime on VHS and when you could rent episodes of Devil Hunter Yohko from the local Blockbusters. I remember the fall of Geneon and when Crunchyroll went legit and the rise of the fujoshi in the North American market (God bless us rotten girls!) and when Hetalia was licensed aka when Tokyopop got the license to print money - although even that didn't save them in the end. I was there, man! Well, as there as I'll ever be.

But that’s enough of the past. Let’s look to the future – a future full of reviews and meta essays and thinky thoughts on things like moe and yaoi and squid girls abound. What will Nagareboshi Reviews be bringing you in the near future? Well, how about reviews of the summer 2011 season of anime – including the newest season of Natsume Yuujinchou and CLAMP’s addition to the Blood+ canon? And there’s manga reviews of course; currently in my stack o’ manga to be reviewed are the latest volumes of Bleach, Naruto, and Soul Eater as well as the first English omnibus edition of Cross Game (what can I say, I love shonen!).

If you want to keep track of exactly what I’m watching/reading, you can follow me via my MyAnimeList page! And if you wanna talk to me in 140 characters or less, you can contact me via my TwitterI hope to get to know and talk to all of my readers very soon, and this blog of mine will soon be full of posts you can read and enjoy. Thank you for stopping by – maybe you’ll come back soon? ♥