Lum-A-Day 126 – Ran-chan’s Panic: No Tomorrow for Tomobiki

An odd combination of characters to focus on, but it works. That combo? Ran & Kotatsu Neko.

Ran buys a supernova star fragment from a Lovecraftian store (owned by the Al Hazard guild), intending to put it in a pendant to give to Rei. However she literally bumps into Kotatsu Neko and drops it. Kotatsu Neko then spends the episode trying to return it, while Tomobiki goes insane.

Firstly Ran accuses Lum of stealing it, so the Stormtroopers and Mendou try to find it (despite not knowing what it is) to prove Lum innocence. Meanwhile Ran explains what it is to Lum and Ataru, and we learn that she forgot to shield the fragment, and if they don’t find it by nightfall, the fragment will turn into a real supernova and vaporise Tomobiki (question for the sci-fi nerds – is there a common source for this and the very similar Warp star that Sarah Jane had in Doctor Who?). So they start searching too.

This all escalates into the entire town thinking that Lum & Ataru are planning on firing a supernova missile at Tomobiki, and there’s a mass evacuation/lynch mob formed and a chase out of town.

All while this is going on Kotatsu Neko is trying to find Ran, often missing her by seconds, and meeting lots of the other characters such as the Headmaster, Sakura, and Ten. Finally just as dusk is about to begin, Kotatsu Neko finds Ran, gives her the supernova and the town is saved.

The animation here isn’t as strong as the last two episodes, except perhaps for Kotatsu Neko himself. It’s clear that the animators love the character, he’s gotten far more screen time in Yamazaki-era than he did in the Oshii-era, and he is the centre of attention here, even if the mechanics of the plot is with the other characters. The manic nature of the humans (and aliens) and the slow, calm, but persistant nature of this giant ghost cat works wonders here. As you can guess from the screenshot of Ryuu and her dad cross-countering, I only scratched the surface of how the hunt for the star plays out, there’s lots of comedic sequences crammed in there, not only do they get an Ashita no Joe gag, there’s a Star of the Giants sequence that is entirely in service one appalling pun. And for that I salute it!

This episode marks the sole appearance of Naoko Yamamoto as Animation Director (though I think they were key animators on other episodes).

Screenplay: Yumi Asano
Storyboards: Motosuke Takahashi
Director: Iku Suzuki
Animation Director: Naoko Yamamoto

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Lum-A-Day 125 – Pool Spooks! Burning with Forbidden Love

A return of sorts to the old two story episodes.

The gang are at Mendou’s aquarium/resort and enjoying the summer once again. Also there, and not enjoying himself is the goblin who was living at the bottom of Mendou’s swimming pool way back in episode 34. But more on him in the second half, all we get here is his pining for a “Kimiko”.

Firstly we have Lum’s insane methods teaching Ten to swim. Including tieing a weights to him and having him chased by piranhas. She then tries to attach a machine that swims in the opposite direction to him, but it ends up attached to Ataru instead. It will only fall off if he swims 200m, so he tries to do this while flirting with various women in the pool. A lot of comedy buisness in this half and little plot. Which is great.

In the second half, we see Lum, Ataru, Mendou and Shinobu help out the lovelorn goblin. Having run away from after falling in love with Kimiko, a puffer fish, he is living in the aquarium. However he has a problem with a shark stealing away his girl. Lum and Shinobu get dressed as mermaids to distract the shark while the boys rescue the puffer fish. Meanwhile the boy who adopted the goblin is returning with a fish tank – his parents say they can keep the puffer fish at home. And so we leave the boys fist fighting the shark while the goblin gets his big romantic ending.

This episode works really well, cramming in so many gags at the start got the ball rolling before the we got to the slightly meatier plot with the pool goblin. And once again it all looks great.

Tomokazu Kougo shows up here as director for the first time. Next no credits on ANN, but he seems to be still active as I can find storyboard credits on KenIchi the Mightiest Disciple DVD listings on Japanese sites.

Screenplay: Tokio Tsuchiya
Storyboard: Tomokazu Kougo
Director: Tomokazu Kougo
Animation Director: Kyoko Kato

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MADstravaganza III @ Ayacon 2009


A DECEPTIVELY INTERACTIVE PANEL

~FEATURING VIDEO CLIPS FEATURING~

CHARGEMAN KEN | KABUTOBORG VxV | GAG MANGA BIYORI | BACCANO | YU-GI-OH | AKAGI | KAIJI | FINAL FANTASY | SOUL EATER | CODE GEASS | PRETTY CURE | SHAMAN KING | NARUTO | ONE PIECE | FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST | JUNGLE WA ITSUMO HALE NOCHI GUU | THE DARK KNIGHT | CRAYON SHIN CHAN | LUCKY STAR | SAINT SEIYA | SEXY COMMANDO | POKEMON | LUPIN III | METAL GEAR SOLID | CHI’S SWEET HOME | COWBOY BEBOP | KIRBY | JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE | NEON GENESIS EVANGELION | MEGAMAN | OISHINBO | DEATH NOTE | GOLGO 13 | FIST OF THE NORTH STAR | THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZIMIYA | GURREN LAGANN | STAR TREK | WATCHMEN | SPEED RACER | MOYASHIMON

…AND A WHOLE LOAD OF OTHER STUFF I EITHER PLAYED LAST YEAR OR DIDN’T GET ROUND TO PLAYING.

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Lum-A-Day 124 – The Stairs! Footsteps in the Girls Dorm!!

After Ataru terrifies Lum and Ten by telling them the story of Botan Doro, he appears to become the target of a similar ghost. Every night the ghost arrives, dispatches Lum and Ten (and eventually Cherry) and carries off Ataru to who knows where? Mendou has been observing the situation and when Ataru comes back covered him lipstick kisses, he thinks Ataru is being taken to some harem and jealously wants in on the action.

And so it is that Lum, Ten, Cherry and Mendou follow Ataru and this time find where he’s being taken…. The Girls Dormatory at Ryouko Mendou’s school. At which point the episode wisely abandons any pretence of actual supernatural events and we see Ataru being taken down the school corridor by a wire attached to a digger driven by a kuroko.

It turns out that Ryoko and her schoolmates have hypnotised Ataru into believing he’s their dog. However when she tries to make her brother behave like a chicken, it fails and Cherry points out she missed an ingredient in her hypnosis powder. Which of course means Ataru wasn’t hypnotised, he was just pretending in order to get close to the girls!

Electrocute and end!

A great episode, and probably the best use of retelling folklore so far. With this and Episode 115, I’m realling liking Keiko Maruo’s scripts and Yuji Moriyama’s presence means it looks great too.

Yuji Moriyama using the other spelling of his name again!

Screenplay: Keiko Maruo
Storyboard: Iku Suzuki
Director: Iku Suzuki
Animation Director: Yuji Moriyama

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HATE FUN? Destructive Summer – Part 3

Needless

Looks to be the Kamen no Maid Guy/Princess Resurrection/Strawberry Panic! team on this. Who are basically the guys at Madhouse that make the stuff I’m not interested in. Based on a manga by Kami Imai.

Spice And Wolf

More light novel adaptin’ action in the manner in which you demanded! I, however, am still not interested in this dull show. Not this sequel to it.

Bakemonogatari

SHAFT adapt Nisio Isin’s supernatural novels about a school boy turned vampire turned back to school boy turned supernatural problem solver. Still waiting for SHAFT to do something that interests me storywise as much as their animation does. Don’t think this will be it.

Taishō-Era Baseball Girls

Another novel to anime transition. This time Atsushi Kagurazaka’s tale of 1920′s schoolgirls starting a baseball team. The anime appears to have wrung any last vestige of charm from the Sadaji Koike character designs of the characters from the novels.

Zan Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei

SHAFT return to their biggest success with this third TV series of Kôji Kumeta’s manga. Is this the first time SHAFT have had two series on at the same time? The original series of this is the show that made me want to like SHAFT more than I do. Stylistically they are exceptional, it is just the material they tend to adapt does nothing for me.

Hetalia Axis Powers

More of this anthropomorphised WWII nations nonsense. Will this one actually air on TV? Will I actually care?

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HATE FUN? Destructive Summer – Part 2

Princess Lover
Hoo boy. The name at the very least screams appalling. When you learn it’s based on some erotic video game, that’s pretty much confirmed.

Kanamemo
ALL FOUR PANEL STRIPS ABOUT CUTE GIRLS DOING CUTE THINGS MUST BE ANIMATED.

Or so it seems. Is there really that big an audience for this stuff?

Sora no Manimani
I expect this to be thoroughly solid. Shinji Takamatsu, director of School Rumble directs. While that wasn’t my cup of tea, it was a decent enough show and had a lot of fans.

Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou
Yasuhiro Kuroda, who is no good, directs. Oddly, the second director of this season’s otaku-bait shows to have directed episodes of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Which backs up my “Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a terrible cartoon (but a great sci-fi show)” theory.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Yay. Bones + noitaminA. And it seems to be an original story. This probably has the highest chance of being the thing to watch. Natsuko Takahashi (who already killed it in the noitaminA slot with the Moyashimon anime) writes and Masaki Tachibana (various GITS episodes) directs.

Aoi Hana
Talking of people who owned that noitaminA slot – Kenichi Kasai (Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile) directs this adaptation of Takako Shimura’s yuri manga. If you want to have your mind slightly blown – same character designer as the Cromartie anime (Masayuki Onchi). Rescue Wings’ Fumihiko Takayama writes.

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Lum-A-Day 123 – Ryunosuke Confused! Solid Rock Mother Cherishes Her Young Pebble!

Hoo boy. I have point I will be making about these post-Oshii/Ito episodes in a bit. But first, a possibly rambling synopsis.

Summer’s here and it’s beach times again. Ataru, Lum, Shinobu and Mendou run into some familiar faces at the beach. First Cherry who has been hired to catch a food stealing goblin. Then Ryuu and her father who are raising money to buy a bikini/fix their cafe by selling ice cream.

Then when out swimming Mendou and Ataru rescue a woman who appears to be drowning. She is looking for her child, who turns out to be Ryuu. Her husband seems to recognise her, but Ryuu is not so sure until she sees her punch Mr Fujiyama similar to how she would.

Later they find Ryuu’s mum gazing out sea pining for her child. They also discover she has a tail! So Ataru and Lum find Ryuu and check her for tails too. When they find that Ryuu lacks a tail, they consider telling her that the woman she thinks is her mother may not be, but decide against it as it would upset her.

However, when Mr Fujiyama playfully throws Ryuu at his newly found wife, they all discover her true form, that of a little sad goblin. Cue the locals chasing a second goblin (the one Cherry was hired to get rid of), who turns out to be the child Ryuu’s “mum” was looking for. Reunited the goblins return to the sea, and Cherry claims he’s done a great job despite doing nothing but eat the entire episode.

What I haven’t summarised there is the thick swath of sentimentality that the makers added to original manga’s plot to fill out the time. Specifically how other characters see the goblin mother as a mother figure too, the goblins human forms as they return to the sea, and everyone getting children’s toys in the final scene while crying out mother.

Now the Oshii/Ito era wasn’t free of this, but it had more bite to it. And Ito was just as likely to add more comedic business to bulk out a plot rather than do whatever this was doing. You never got the feeling the viciousness of Takahashi’s original work was getting smothered.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is nowhere near as bad the sentimentalisation of Maison Ikkoku in that anime adaptation. It’s just a bit annoying that firstly some of these episodes aren’t as funny as ought to be, and the moods they seem to grasp for aren’t really reached.

That being said, Takafumi Hayashi was Animation Director again, and so it looked great once again.

Hirohisa Soda makes his first UY screenwriting appearance here. He’s much better known as a writer on the Super Sentai Series.

Screenplay: Hirohisa Soda
Storyboard: Junji Nishimura
Director: Junji Nishimura
Animation Director: Takafumi Hayashi

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Lum-A-Day 122 – The Fox’s Unrequited Love

This is an unbelievably sweet episode. And it introduces a new recurring character.

When Shinobu saves a fox from being beaten up by some dogs (she does this by swing a telegraph pole at them), the fox develops a huge crush on her, seeing her as the heroine in an action film he once saw. So he tries to find her and pay her back for her kindness. However it doesn’t quite go right. When Shinobu can’t afford the make-up she wants, the fox puts the make up in her bag as a present, but only ends up getting her accused of shoplifting.

He does manage to get her umbrella back to her when she leaves it at the shop. And when she throws the flowers she was taking to class in order to beat up Soban, he recovers them and puts them in a vase on Onsen-Mark’s desk. However he’s also left little fox foot prints everywhere.

But that’s OK, because “Ataru” appears to clean them up. For this fox has shape-changing powers, unfortunately they are a little incomplete as he remains the same size, and retains his fox ears, tail and his little dot eyes and nose. So this little Ataru tries to clean up the footprints but keeps leaving more. When other class members arrive, they are so shocked they fetch Onsen-Mark. Who is also shocked as this Ataru is so polite.

Then the Headmaster arrives, and for reasons unknown cannot find his glasses (Kotatsu Neko is wearing them). He thinks this is the real Ataru and compliments Onsen-Mark on turning him into a model student. Eventually the real Ataru arrives and the truth is revealed, but Shinobu points out that the fox is just trying to pay her back. She thanks him and he goes off, his debt paid, never to be seen again…

Until a tiny fox-eared Onsen-Mark arrives to teach the class!

This may be a perfect Urusei Yatsura episode. The first half captures the melancholic, nostalgic sweetness at the heart of the anime, and the second half in the class is full of the escalating insanity that comes from the manga. It also helps that it looks fantastic, lots of great shots and a trademark crazy running sequence when Soban appears.

The fox, Kitsune is voiced by Masako Sugaya, who also voiced the very similar character, O-shima, in episode 52.

Screenplay: Michiru Shimada
Storyboard: Kazuo Yamazaki
Director: Kazuo Yamazaki
Animation Director: Yuichi Endo

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HATE FUN? Destructive Summer – Part 1

So the anime industry piddles out a few new series in the next couple of months. Time to get the shots in early!

Weiβ Schwarz

It’s an anime based on a card game. Unfortunately that slot is still ably filled by our favourite angular, Lovecraftian, and now cyberpunk, card game franchise. This show with generic soft faced moppets as its leads stands no chance in changing that.

La Corda D’Oro ~secondo passo~

Pretty boy “reverse harem” gets second season. I see on wikipedia it is in the genre Neoromance, which I read at first as Necromance, which probably is a genre. And if not a genre at the very least a band name.

Kawa no Hikari

This is a one off special, an adaptation of an ecological novel. It features talking animals in the vein of Watership Down and Animals of Farthing Wood. I HATE Watership Down and Animals of Farthing Wood. Talking cartoon animals should be trying to kill one another with anvils, outwitting Police Officers/Park Rangers/Zoo Keepers or battling evil aristocratic toads. This sort of animals in realistic peril cartoons are NO FUN.

Fight Ippatsu! Juden-chan

More of the sort of smutty comedy that Shinichiro Kimura (Burn Up Excess, Cosplay Complex, Hand Maid May and so forth) does a lot of. Unfortunately his brand of smutty comedy tends to be more Carry On Girls rather than Carry On Cleo.

Element Hunters

The promo image looks nice in a sub-Birdy The Mighty sort of way. But then you look at the staff and production company it becomes a lot harder to believe it’ll be any good. However NHK are funding it, and it’s an educational show. The similarly ostensibly educational Marie & Gali looked gorgeous, so there’s some hope here.

COBRA THE ANIMATION: Rokunin no Yūshi

COBRA. Madhouse. Osamu Dezaki. On paper this can’t fail. Dezaki’s original adaptations were great, the question is if the Dezaki of 2009 can match that work?

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