Posted on 27 July 2010 with categories: Rainbow




Awesome, it really looks like we’re going to get an arc about the future of each of the lead characters at this pace, if this episode was any hint at least. On top of that, the creators also put in a lot of effort to make all the different arcs flow into each other: this episode neatly wrapped up the main story between Mario and Setsuko, while it also showed some depth for Baremoto and Cabbage, before moving on to Joe’s future as a musician.

I love the way in which Setsuko’s marriage was wrapped up here: it’s clear that the two love each other, but at the same time the series didn’t chose the cheap way out by devolving in cheesy quest for love abandon her chance for real happiness with her new husband, who will be able to take better care of her compared to Mario, due to his background. Because of that, the romance in this episode was powerful, yet not drawn out or overblown. That smile of Mario, when he saw Setsuko at her wedding, pretty much said it all.

Baremoto meanwhile, in the really rare moments of comedy in this series, gets introduced by Suppon to some old hag in his quest to find some kind of woman. I’m not sure what was up with that, but it’s probably some sort of build-up. Either way though, it’s great to see that everyone is now building their own future here, which was even more symbolized by Mario leaving for Tokyo. I’m really interested in whether Cabbage will join him. He’s always been this simple, lovable type, and while he never really got an arc for himself, I still like the way he turned out.

Meanwhile, Joe. The creators really wanted to use the build-up of the earlier episodes here. And it’s a very strange plot twist here, for him to get into a situation where sleeping with some influential woman in order to make it big in the music industry. Usually a plot twist like that would get rejected immediately, but I’m not sure whether the creators intend this to symbolize how Joe should look at the bright sides of his past, whether he should simply accept what happened, or whether they meant to make some kind of point about how childrape victims can turn out. They already showed a different perspective in this with An-chan’s friend who committed suicide.

And god dammit what happened to his sister?! I mean, I know that he accepted that both of them went into different directions, and he probably has no idea where she is right now, but bloody Nora. She was adopted by someone who looked like a freaking mass rapist for god’s sake. Can’t we at least get a slight hint of what happened to her? Think of the character-development here!
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 July 2010 with categories: Rainbow



This episode was all about crowning moments of awesome. Heitai and Baremoto… their actions really made this episode. Not only did the creators find a plausible reason to get Mario out of jail, they also used this occasion to refer back to Mario’s past.

This arc at its core, I think, really was meant as this social criticism, a tad different from the first arc. The first arc was all about underlining the horrible circumstances that some inmates are put through. This arc uses this, but looks at a broader perspective, and also includes the views of the hard-working war veterans who look down on the street-punks. Baremoto’s speech was all about addressing this hypocritical view, and how the lives of their generation was ruined because of the war these adults went into. I do believe that they could have portrayed these adults with a bit more depth, but taking the length of the series into account, and how a lot probably needed to be cut here, it was handled quite well.

Now that we got Mario’s back-story wrapped up, I’m really curious what the creators plan to do with that of the others. At this point I’m not sure whether their background was cut in order to focus on the more important parts of the story, but the OP is definitely hinting at something more.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 13 July 2010 with categories: Rainbow




The upcoming arc turns out to focus on Mario. Interestingly, it’s him who ended up back in trouble due to violence. I actually like how the creators are using the fear to go back to prison, in order to create the drama here, and the story still is carrying on its pacifist themes of the first half: that there is no need to beat up people who annoy you.

It was over the top, but at the same time this episode also tried to make a point of the rather hypocritical stereotypes people have over these violent youths,. On one hand, they often fail to see the people behind those stereotypes, but on the other hand the fact remains that Mario beat a guy into the hospital. Seriously, the story of this thing really is excellent, and I’m really glad to see that this still applies with the second half here.

The first half of this episode also felt a bit weird, but in a good way. With this incredibly dark series, we suddenly have half an episode dedicated to young and innocent crushes. For ten minutes, there actually were no apparent conflicts in this series. As for the arranged marriage… yeah, it’s been done before. But at the same time I can imagine that especially in these times, parents were very desperate to marry off their kids to a solid future. If I am wrong with this, please correct me on that, because I in no way claim to know exactly how things went on in Japan, 11 years after the second world war.

There is one issue that I had with this episode, but that’s more of a personal annoyance of mine. Personally, I dislike it when creators use thugs in order to create cheap drama. The drama here of course wasn’t cheap at all, but still felt like it was started too easily, without much of an introduction: that businessman had the depth of a paper bag. And this is something that annoys me with nearly all thugs in anime. It could have been done much cheaper, though, and I definitely see why it was necessary.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 6 July 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Hell yeah, the creators really did it:they closed off the two major antagonists. We’ve actually reached a point at which the biggest conflicts are gone, and yet there are still 12 episodes left. That’s something you hardly ever see in anime.

This episode was both about revenge being sweet, yet not sweet enough to allow you just to kills someone and get it over with. The doctor got what he deserved, and our lead characters also got their chance to dance on his premature grave in order to really let his deeds sink into him. Ishihara meanwhile was a bit more ambiguous, as we don’t know exactly what happened to him, but Mario gave him a nice closure.

Now, those final twelve episodes. They’re all going to be about our characters growing, and exploiting their own futures. It’s this part that I’ve really been looking forward to, and how this series, with all its over the top acting, is going to end up handling this. This episode also stressed that they’ve all grown up, they’re adults now, and they can now move on with their lives.

There’s one thing that I especially want to know: whatever happened to Joe’s sister? Did they get together? The past two episodes have really not told much about these lives, in order to really focus on wrapping the past storyline up.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 30 June 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Recap. I didn’t really feel like watching it entirely so I just glossed through it, but it did not have any new content aside from some monologues of Mario that didn’t really say anything new. This was really meant as a break for this series.

Either way, it came at a rather annoying moment, just when the series is really getting interesting. Oh, if the creators play their cards right this is going to make for a VERY interesting second half.
Rating: — (Recap)

Posted on 23 June 2010 with categories: Rainbow



These are my favourite types of episodes: those who completely blow my expectations out of the water. This episode was fantastic. I wouldn’t hesitate to put it among the top three most emotionally charged episodes I have seen this Spring season. The places this episode went… I never expected it to get this good. Obviously major spoilers are coming up, so do not read this entry if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

In my posts about the previous episodes, I always assumed one thing: An-chan would make it out alive. There was no way for the creators to just kill him. The previous episode’s ending seemed to confirm this, in the way that he was finally discovered again. It seemed that we would see another upcoming arc in which the lead characters again try to fend off that pedophilic doctor. And yet… he dies. Seriously, he doesn’t even last five minutes.

This episode also did exactly what I’ve been hoping that it would do: the time-skip! Everyone has grown up now, giving a complete new dimension to the story. Talk about character-development! I especially loved what Ishihara had turned into. It’s just fantastic to see that everyone has moved on now, even that doctor.

And that really begs the question here: everything looks set on wrapping the jail arc up at episode thirteen! We’ve still got an entire half left for this series, and here everyone is out of jail, everyone has grown up. Ishihara is gone, the pedo doctor will also probably go out of work in the next episode. That just leaves THIRTEEN EPISODES full of pure character-development. This is even better than I could have hoped for!

I know I often bitched against this series, but this episode just made up for everything. Madhouse, you once again demonstrate that you have BALLS.
Rating: **** (Fantastic)

Posted on 16 June 2010 with categories: Rainbow



So this episode was all about Sakuragi versus Ishihara. And boy, was it full of adrenaline. Really, to have such a psychotic man after your life, where you can easily take his life, yet that would only complicate things infinitely. This episode actually did a pretty good job in displaying this over the top insanity, and the challenge that Sakuragi faced in order to get that guy to just shut up and leave his friends alone.

Which left him badly wounded in the end. He’s been through worse, but this will likely increase his sentence. How long did he have left again before he got to be released? Also, there is still no reason that Ishihara will be gone now. The guy really is crazy enough to keep up with the abuse, and if he isn’t going to do it, then that doctor will find plenty of ways to kill him. This is actually a turn of events that I didn’t quite expect, because any event of Sakuragi getting caught means a ton of attempts to kill the guy.

Also, that boxing match. Its biggest purpose was to bring some extra tension in between that Sakuragi versus Ishihara conflict, but it also served its purpose in developing Mario. In any case, I’m really looking forward to that second half of this series, at which the characters can really show off this development.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 9 June 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Oh, I love the plot of this series. I know that I’ve ranted often about the level of cheese, but the way in which the plot is laid out here just keeps getting better and better. It’s bold, creative and incredibly intense.

And as much as I’ve maid fun of Psycho Guard in the past, I do have to admit that just seeing that big smile of his is already a huge rush of adrenaline. At first I really feared that this guy would be a terrible villain in how over the top he was portrayed, but damn. His insanity especially in this episode was a sight to behold, especially since he actually knew what he was doing here: despite how he turned out to be a drug addict, he chose the sure-fire way to get these guys back to the jail, instead of just rushing in and yelling like a complete imbecile.

And damn, Heitai actually got released here. At first I thought that the creators would be like most series, in the way that they try too hard to keep the main cast together, however this is a very interesting twist. Episodes like this show that this isn’t just about life in jail, but rather a look into violent youth, and the world they grew up in ten years after the second world war. Heitai can now actually put a closure to his youth and grow up to be a respectable adult. He always was the most stable member of the cast, and I think that especially after An-chan left so often, it was he who took up the leadership of the group, and guided everyone through.

But there of course are also countless of other characters who developed already. Take Joe, and how miserable he was at the beginning of the series. Cabbage also feels to have become less of a loser, wile Baremoto was about to develop when we saw him for the last time, but we need to see a bit more of him for this to actually solidify.

I’m not exactly sure of the pacing here, but this is what I managed to find out about the manga: volume 1 covers up to the chapter “in flames”. Let’s assume that it covers until episode four, in which the prison caught fire. With the same pacing over 22 volumes, a simple calculation shows that at the same pacing this show would need 88 episodes to tell its story. Unfortunately, that ain’t gonna work; it’s nowhere near popular enough for that. My guess is now really: what are the creators planning? Do they plan to pull an Itazura na Kiss, in the way that they’re hell-bent on getting to the end of this story, or will they just animate this thing and stop when they run out of episodes.

As it’s almost certain that this show will go for either 24 or 26 episodes at this point, I hope that it’s going to be the former. The creators will need to do some skillful cutting in order to condense a huge amount of material into just two seasons, but this fast pacing may actually give an interesting dimension to this series. There’s no way that there’s going to be a second season for this thing, so I really hope that we can get to the really interesting part of this story: the part in which everyone grows up.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 June 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Oh, how awesome could this series have been if it had an actually good director who knew the meaning of subtlety. Even with the overacting, I’m completely hooked to this series right now. This show has great pacing, and the strength of the manga really shines through at this point. This episode again featured excellent, believable plot twists when you don’t look at how much the voice actors were hamming it up.

Setsuko (the nurse) takes up a vital role in this. She was vital in restoring An-chan back to health, something that the others probably wouldn’t have been able to do this fast. She also knew an interesting shelter, and I also assume that they lived in a time where people have a lot more to do than to look at wanted posters, which allows them to keep hidden for quite a while. The big mistake Joe made earlier was that it was extremely predictable where he was going. It’s not without flaws, though. As soon as someone in the hospital starts talking, they’ll be in trouble.

While it’s going to be obvious that An-chan at least will escape, the creators succeeded in one thing: portraying how important it is for him to actually get away: Joe in this episode may have made sure that Psycho-guard (who is beginning to sound more and more like a cat in a blender by the way) won’t be able to make the lives of Baremoto, Heitai and Cabbage miserable, they will kill An-chan when they see him again. This is so different from your average shounen hero who survives battles against all odds.

And the best thing is probably the promise that there’s much more in store here. I’m still looking forward to the moment that the characters will leave prison and move on with their lives. If this plays such a big role in the OP, which just keeps hinting at it, it’s bound to play some sort of a big role in this series, and not just pop up as a resolution at the last half of the last episode.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 26 May 2010 with categories: Rainbow



Holy crap. I know that I often talked down on the director. The reason for my scepsis was very much based on those series series, based on great manga but that were ruined by a sloppy direction; most notably Ookami Kakushi. While the series composition guy was excellent, with anime it’s always the question how these two balance each other out: there are series in which the director is in control of everything, but there are other directors that let themselves get very much guided by the plan, laid out by the series composition: it’s different for every series.

Thankfully though, this turned into more of an Umineko than an Ookami Kakushi: it’s flawed as an adaptation, but the essence of the original manga still comes shining through. The biggest problem with this show really is the acting: it doesn’t know the meaning of subtlety and instead just tries to tug at your emotional strings too quickly, only creating something silly.

This episode though… damn. The strength of the manga really shined through here. Seeing everyone work together to save An-chan’s life, in a structured well-thought out way that doesn’t try to be stupid in any way really made up for the acting this time (sure, the rope was cliched, but in this context I can really see it working). This is really one thing that I didn’t expect to see coming beforehand: that the tables have turned, and the six leads instead have to take care of An-chan. It’s extreme, but definitely an interesting twist to the trope of the strong guy taking care of the weak ones. Heck, he’s only one year older than them anyways, that’s also an interesting twist here.

the crowning moment of awesome here really was Psycho Guard’s manic appearance when he tried to stab An-chan. We only have to assume that he assumed the right path that the guys would escape through, but that’s really the first point at which I have to give thumbs up to how the anime creators decided to handle him. It was completely out of left field, but seeing his manic face, only to get beaten to hell by Mario again was really satisfying. But the entire episode really was full of them, from all of the characters’ sacrifices (normally these things are very cheesy, but here of all things it was completely necessary for them to make it out of the prison). Pedo Doctor’s roar of anger may have been a bit too much, but still didn’t ruin anything.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 07:10 AM)
    @Bam For my money though, Vinland Saga is the best running historical/seinen/action manga. Vagabond is the more impressive artistic feat, but I think Vinland Saga is just written better. Both mangas are absolutely essential reading for historical/seinen fans.
  • ninjarealist
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 07:07 AM)
    @Bam Not to be a hipster but I’ve been reading Vagabond since 2007 and from my perspective it seems like the manga has gotten less popular over time, not the other way around. Back then every seinen fan worth his salts had read Vagabond as well as all the classic Goseki Kojima Samurai manga. Both mangas have fallen out of popularity.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 06:58 AM)
    I just want to say that Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue is one of the most badass manga of all time. It’s crazy how many avid manga fans never even heard about this well-told and incredibly-drawn manga. I mean seriously … this is criminally under-appreciated.
  • Vincent
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 06:52 AM)
    Damn, none of my manga are updating. ;( Time to read a book I suppose. Or look at planes. I’ll look at planes.
  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:23 AM)
    @Eeelo Erhm, what? We shouldn’t be sad that a fellow Canadian died on our own soil? Those conditions you listed, that’s exactly why we’re sad. This isn’t a combat zone.
  • Eeelo
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:21 AM)
    Well, that isn’t my fault for wanting people to think. Getting mad at the politicians don’t do anything
  • k-off
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:16 AM)
    @Eeelo If you’re talking about the masses, it’s your fault for expecting anything. You’re getting mad at the wrong people, m8.
  • Eeelo
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:12 AM)
    The lack of that ‘equal scrutiny’ you talk about is what I’m speaking out against.
  • k-off
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:07 AM)
    You simply cannot say it is insignificant just because it happens to a larger extent somewhere else. Is hunger in the West not important because it is far more severe in Africa? No, you’re supposed to look at both sides with equal scrutiny.
  • k-off
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 05:02 AM)
    @Eeelo Listen up m8. Sure this happens every other day in other parts of the world. Iraq, to name one among many. However, Canada is not Iraq, and the victims were not expecting to die guarding a building in the capital of their own god damn country, unlike the men in Iraq. Therefore, not only is deeming their deaths insignificant completely illogical, it is retarded.

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