When I was in High School, Fruits Basket came out in the US and it was a phenomenon. the manga was the flagship of Tokyopop’s unflipped manga (or “100% Authentic Manga”) initiative, and its success led to the majority of manga in the US being published unflipped, and also cemented a longstanding partnership between Tokyopop and Borders which lasted until both went bankrupt – all of that fueled as well by the success of the anime. Now, about 18 years later, long enough for the high school kids who grew up on FuruBa to have kids of their own, there is a new anime adaptation of Fruits Basket, with the first season airing this year.

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Anime has an interesting relationship with the “Otaku” lifestyle. There’s an undeniable appeal to lounging around the house or apartment playing video games and/or watching TV (especially for an Otaku), but that’s not particularly a healthy way to live your life – so we get a variety of anime that romanticize the Otaku lifestyle in a manner both congratulating and self-depreciating, like Genshiken and Otaku no Video.

Himouto Umaru-Chan has an interesting take on this. The main character of the show is Umaru – a die-hard Otaku who is currently attending high school and who is also living with her brother Taihei, a salaryman who handles the cooking and cleaning. However, her public identity is not that of being an Otaku, but instead as one of the most popular girls in school, proficient in most sports, and who gets As in all her classes. On returning home, she undergoes a seemingly physical transformation into a chibi version of herself, with a radically different personality and wearing a hamster hood. The difference is dramatic enough that it’s something of a running joke that people who don’t already know can’t tell that Umaru’s public and private personas are the same person.

From there, the humor of the show comes from juggling the silliness of Umaru’s behavior (and with it the split between her public and private personas) and how Taihei responds to her behavior, along with other characters reactions to the two personas when encountered on their own. The writing for the humor here works very well. It’s helped by the fact that unlike far too many anime of late, this anime writes a brother-sister relationship that stays on the familial level, instead of stepping into the romantic level like like Oreimo and Eromanga-Sensei did. Nor does it get heavily into risque fanservice, keeping the show from getting skeevy.

It makes for a comedy series that isn’t particularly ambitious, and not particularly deep, but is fun and makes for good light viewing.

Himouto! Umaru-Chan is currently available from Amazon.com (Blu-Ray, DVD), and RightStuf.com (Blu-Ray, DVD).

Anime comedies, are absolutely willing to get self-referential, in some cases going full parody. Now, you can get a bad parody by shoving random jokes and references into the work because they can (the Seltzer & Friedberg films), or come from a place where you actively hate and dislike the genre they are satirizing, and in turn can end up creating works which are poor examples of that genre.

By comparison, the best parodies are those which are also good examples of the work in question, and such is the case with Ouran High School Host Club. (more…)

2015’s revival of Ushio and Tora by Studio MAPPA is not the first revival of an older anime and manga series in the 21st century. In 2008, JC Staff revived the classic fantasy anime series Slayers, with a fourth season after an almost decade gap. The series was was released as a split-cour show, with the first 12-episode cour being subtitled “Revolution”, and the second “Evolution-R”. When the show originally was announced, the big question that fans had was would this show come back with a Dragon Slave sized blast, or would it fizzle like a wet firework? (more…)

Get Blazing Saddles (on Blu-Ray) from Amazon.com
Get Blazing Saddles (on Blu-Ray) from Amazon.com

I’m not going to say I’ve watched everything Mel Brooks has ever done, but I’ve watched a fair chunk of it, and I’ve enjoyed what I’d seen. However, I’d never gotten around to watching Blazing Saddles. The film is widely regarded as being Brooks best film, aside from, maybe, Young Frankenstein. So, I’ve watched it, now what did I think about it?

The Premise:

Bart, an African-American man working on the railroad, is saved from execution for assaulting one of the racist over-seers for the railroad, to be appointed by the Eeeeevvvvvviiiiillll Lieutenant Governor Hedley Lamar as the sheriff of the town of Rock Ridge – which Lamar is trying to force out so he can claim the land for himself as the rail-road comes through it, so he can make a fortune. However, Lamar has underestimated Bart, and his new deputy, Jim, aka The Gunslinger Formerly Known As The Waco Kid. (more…)