Before you ask anything about my dress ups, please see if your question has already been answered in the F.A.Q. Thank you.
It is the end of the year again, and like last year I ended up compiling a list on stuff I've seen and read this year (2011 here
). Plus the game I got for Christmas. Not so surprisingly the list turned out a lot longer than I expected...
Some spoilers at the end in the top ### best/worst scenes, highlight the text to read. More detailed reviews for some of the manga and anime series and watching diaries on Avatar and Korra on my website
, in Reviews.
the Irresponsible Captain TylorAn incredibly lucky idiot (?) takes part in a space war
This was on my watch-list for years until I finally bothered to watch it, and it was a very rewarding experience. Tylor was a great main character in all his glorious laid-back nature, and it was nice to see a genuinely nice guy who didn't wish ill to anyone for once. All of Tylor's victories were naturally crazy deus ex machinas and his plot shield was impenetrable, but that was kinda the whole point so I have no problem with it. There were some seriously derpy episodes, but if I erase them from my memory it was a great series.
Extra points for having a very likable cast, I don't remember disliking anyone.
Clannad + Clannad After StoryA high school guy gets a harem and eventually marries one of the girls
Clannad ranked so high in "top anime series" lists that I had to check it out. Didn't really like. The main character was surprisingly nice and well-written, but many of the girls were pretty irritating in their "I exist to be waifu material for you, viewer!" characterisation, and those who didn't annoy me were mostly just boring. And at most their "sad" stories managed to get an "okay" reaction out of me, while some were outright embarrassingly painful to watch and it felt like the creators were standing next to me, telling "this is the ~sad~ part, now you're supposed to cry!!1".
After story was a lot better for getting out of high school and moving to more mature themes (and having less Fuuko and Kotomi). I've seen plenty of stories where teenagers are in luurve and the story ends with a love confession and a kiss at most, so seeing the main couple graduate, get jobs, move out and get married was very nice. And, it had one of the greatest plot points this year, but the ending completely ruined the whole thing for me.
Princess TutuA magical girl wants to save her prince with magic ballet
Princess Tutu competes for the title of "Hapuriainen's favourite magical girl anime" with Madoka. But while Madoka's greatness comes from subverting the viewer's expectations Tutu is more clearly its own thing and doesn't require the viewer to think "Ha! All the other magical girl shows handled this thing in a boring way, but THIS one was different and better!". Also, I really liked how the show played with the meta levels of storytelling.
Tutu had one of the most satisfying endings this year. Many times even if I really like the series I still end up wishing something more from the finale, but Tutu managed to keep the quality until the end.
How to Train Your DragonA fail viking befriends a dragon
For some reason this one got meh reviews when it first aired here so I didn't expect much from it when I finally got my hands on the DVD, and on top of that Dreamworks didn't have a very good history on making great cgi films for me. Sure, some of them have been able to entertain me, but hardly ever they've been good enough to get past "that was ok I guess but not worth a rewatch". It's just that all the trendy pop culture references, snarky, sarcastic and arrogant characters who are jerks to each other, toilet humour and groin attacks, jokes that expect me to laugh at the characters instead of with them and the same "HA! Watch me I have attitude
!" Dreamworks face in every promo poster make the movie kind of superficial to me especially when compared to for example Pixar's works that have a lot more heart. But luckily I was proven wrong about my suspicions this time so now I'll try to remember that Dreamworks is capable of making a movie I can take seriously.
But yeah, How to Train your Dragon is so far the best DreamWorks film to me and probably the first where I truly cared for the story and characters. And while there were some minor things that bothered me there was only one major disappointment (the girl being shoehorned to the love interest role).
Avatar the Last AirbenderKids fight the evil Fire Empire with magical powers
Started watching this because of the clothes. Some day I'll make a character creator of that! Though it will be highly controlled which clothes and colours may be put together. Avatar had such good and consistent designs that while it's none of my business if someone desperately wants a special snowflake OC who wears a red water tribe coat, purple fire nation shoes and a pink air nomad poncho, but they won't make it in my game.
The series was very enjoyable even if the ending was pretty rushed. I was expecting Toph to be my favourite character, but in the end she was second to Zuko. Watching him suffer was delicious. Also liked Aang, Sokka and Iroh, and the fact that there were so many important and credible villains was very nice (Avatar did a very good job with female characters). Katara was meh though. And definitely not pairing her with Zuko. Kataang was boring as well, but I can swallow it if I pretend the extremely forced last scene didn't happen and they hooked up offscreen in their teenage years (nothing particular against the pair since I really like Tenzin and at least it's not Zutara).
The Legend of KorraTeens fight muggles with magical powers
Korra was a letdown after the original series. It had good chances to be great, but in the end it didn't manage to get me to care about the main characters and there were some plot points I did not like at all. Korra was ok but I didn't like how her character was handled, Mako had all Zuko's unappealing sides and very few of the good so I never cared much for him and I liked Bolin at first but he kind of faded into the background. Asami was the only one I liked from start to finish. Then there was that shipping garbage that took way too much screen time and the final pair was as uninteresting as possible. Still watching the second season or book or whatever they're called though, for the clothes if nothing else.
Lin and Tenzin were great, I'd like to see more of them. Surprisingly I didn't hate the airbender brats either.
BraveMother-daughter problems of a bratty princess and an uptight queen
As much I am thrilled for Pixar's first female protagonist I have to admit that this wasn't one of Pixar's best films. It looked gorgeous, had nice characters and improved towards the end, but the story had problems. Would the whole story have even happened if Merida hadn't been so conveniently vague about what she wanted from the... wood-carver? And she possibly couldn't have gone to the castle alone at the end of the film?
I am, however, glad to get a story a) with a female protagonists and b) that doesn't have 'love' as a theme. Not that romance stories can't be interesting, but it gets kinda repetitive when almost every movie with a female protagonist expects me to be interested in her love story when there could be tons of other themes to explore instead. Also even with its faults I still liked Brave leagues more than... most of the Disney Princess movies. Mulan and Tangled are probably the only ones I'd put before it.
Really liking Merida's hair.
Various Random Princess movies
Because of the Pokemon Princesses drawing project I ended up watching plenty of animated movies in the hopes of getting a new princess character to draw. Can't say that I particularly enjoyed any of them... or remember any of them for that matter. In the worst cases I managed to suffer through a horribly boring movie only to find out that in the in the end there was no princesses in the movie at all. Kind of stupid watching princess movies anyway really since princess stories are on the tail end of stuff that interests me (there's always the obligatory love story) and sometimes I question myself why on earth do I have to draw them in the first place, but... it's the collecting thing I guess.
Wreck-it-Ralph is supposed to give me three more princesses, but then I'm in trouble since I don't want to mix Disney and non-Disney characters in the same picture and I don't know of any other Disney Princesses I'd want to draw. I guess three would be enough for one picture, but what will I do when Disney gives us the next princess and there's only one?
CoralineA girl gets in trouble with a fantasy world
This... why is this a kid's movie? I
would have been way too much of a wuss to watch it. I've always found stop-motion animation creepy even if it wasn't purposely a horror story...
Very enjoyable experience anyway. Somewhat similar but a lot creepier was the short story "Alma" (available on Youtube), which was even creepier.
Kanon (2006)A high school guy gets a harem and eventually starts dating one of the girls
Despite having a ton of stuff I didn't like Clannad apparently was good enough that I decided to check out Kanon by the same studio. That was a big mistake.
The male lead was boring and annoying and had no character outside his relations with the girls. The girls were cutesy-patootsie moeblobs with horribly ugly moefaces and at times reduced to something like a cute pet. How on earth could someone like Makoto or Ayu be considered serious girlfriend candidates? And then there was the ending... Bleargh.
Rise of the GuardiansA magical pretty boy angsts because kids don't see him
How to Train Your Dragon made me trust DreamWorks a bit more so I went to see this. It wasn't nearly as good but I'll still take it over Kung Fu Pandas and Bee Movies any day.
The ending was super cheesy and derpy and no amount of "it's a movie about Santa Claus and Easter Bunny, just ignore it" is going to help with that. Also the timespan of the movie was far too short. No Easter eggs on one Easter, Tooth Fairy not collecting teeth for a night for two -> Every single kid on the entire Earth instantly stops believing in Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy? No kid was sick during the Easter egg hunt and thus missed the whole fiasco? No kid was told any lies that the Easter bunny was sick this year but he will return next Easter (let's ignore the obvious "parents could, like, hide chocolate eggs themselves" solution for the sake of the movie)? Or if it was something to do with the villain's power and I missed it I'll have to say that then the villain would have ridiculously broken powers. And the scene where Jack had ttlly betrayed the other Guardians felt very forced, and the gender ratio females:males of 1:5 in the main characters disappoints a lot.
But anyway, the movie still looked gorgeous and I liked most of the characters (especially the Easter Bunny). And there were lots of fun ideas, like the Tooth hunting competition and the Guardians' different transportation methods.
One PieceThe hero sets out to the sea to do pirate stuff; adventure ensues.
OP is still one of my favourite manga, but this year hasn't been my favourite. I don't like Law; just being a cool and dark pretty boy does with genious plans not make me like a character, quite the opposite actually (and he has a broken power). The only times I've liked him were when Chopper was tied to his head and every time his plans don't go as planned because of Luffy messing up. He'll need a flashback or something else where he's not smirking arrogantly to make me like him.
But even if I'm not as enthusiastic about One Piece as I might have been 200 chapters ago the series is still doing great. Especially the small jokes Oda puts everywhere are as great as ever. And with DoFlamingo's appearance I expect it to get better again.
Trinity BloodA cheap Mary Sue steals the spotlight from an interesting vampire story
How many new chapters did we get this year again? Two? Man this series moves slowly. Considering how little interest the manga author seems to have in the series I believe I shouldn't have my hopes up for him writing a proper ending for it.
In addition to the lack of chapters the few we got didn't interest me much either. Since this is the arc where one of my least favourite characters in the history of fiction I've consumed gets about as special as she possibly can I have a hard time getting excited about the series any more. I guess the only thing I can hope for now is more clothes for my TB dress ups; at least the author's art is still as great as before.
Rose of VersaillesMarie Antoinette : the manga
ahahahahaaaa this was so great I can hardly contain myself
Basically, I read this only because it had tons of crazy ornate dresses
and that alone was enough to entertain me for the whole ten volumes. Being a shoujo manga from the seventies it was hilariously serious business and excessive drama, but I didn't let it bother me.
Rose of Versailles is also revered for having a very strong female character (Lady Oscar). I have to agree; she sweeps the floors with the "tee hee I'm such a silly klutz omg the male lead looks this way kyaa blush blush" schoolgirl protagonists we nowadays tend to have in shoujo. But sadly I didn't pay much attention to the plot because I was busy saving all the pictures fo the fancy dresses.
Assassination ClassroomOctopus monster teaches students to assassinate him
The new series in Shounen Jump is apparently insanely popular right from the start, and I'm not surprised at all. At least it has an unique idea. I was very impressed with the start, but lately it has started to bore me. Can we get a bit more plot?
Koro-sensei is a great character. The... main character? Nagisa on the other hand is horribly boring.
One Punch ManA superhero defeats foes with just one punch and becomes dissatisfied with the boring fights
Possibly the greatest gag manga I've ever read. After reading One Punch Man Assassination Classroom somehow feels less impressive, even if comparing them didn't make much sense. They don't have much in common do they?
A ridiculously overpowered hero who beats any foe with no effort might sound boring, but at least for some 20 chapters I still haven't become tired of it. When you know the main character is going to win anyway it's easier to concentrate on the "how" instead, and his down-to-earth attitude leads to many hilarious jokes (he kind of reminds me of Haruhi from Ouran High School). Also the series has great art and a lot of funny visual quirks (notice anything that shouldn't be there in the first volume cover
But anyway, if you like crazy action OPM is worth checking out.
Pokemon Heart GoldPokemon game #11
Got this for Christmas since I really enjoyed Pokemon Gold some ten years ago.
I'm not even done with the eight Johto gyms, and the Pokemon White I got a year ago feels a bit disappointing compared to this. While White was a fun game and it has some technical improvements and a lot of great stuff like more double battles, Darumaka and Cottonee, animated pokemon sprites, faster battles, infinite TMs and the awesome "gym leader - last pokemon" music, Heart Gold just seems to have even more fun stuff. First of all, having twice as much places to visit with Kanto is kind of obvious. And I love the unnecessary nonsense such as the walking pokemon, decorating poke balls and taking photos with the pokemon. Then there are the mini games such as the bug catching contest, pokeathlon, zafari zone, Voltorb flip... I like farming the berries as well when you can take your berry farm with you instead of having to search for the soft soil. White had the Battle Subway thing and Pokemon musical that quite frankly never interested me that much (also, you call that a dress up?!), and the stupid White Forest which had zero value without other people to communicate with. And I don't even know what the Dream World thing is, I'm not interested in using a website for playing pokemon.
Surprisingly I've ended not using my starter for the first time, currently Mareep (not allowed to evolve to preserve the cuteness) and Haunter are my main pokemon. And I desperately want a Gengar. Can anyone link me to a site where I could arrange the trade?
top 3 worst scenes
3. The ending of Legend of Korra
Okay, I'm aware that the creators didn't know they'd be getting a second season, but I found the ending seriously underwhelming when it solved all of Korra's problems in a few minutes. So Korra has lost the ability to bend three elements, but gained airbending. Wasn't it kind of the point that bending is cool and non-benders can have a hard time for not being able to bend an element? So learning to live as a non-bender and learning more about the spiritual side of being an avatar could lead to character development to the somewhat arrogant Korra. Except she wasn't even a non-bender at all, she still had air, which was like the rarest element out there, and as the avatar she has the special access to the spirit world business as well. In my opinion it would've fit her character perfectly to go "So what if I can only bend one element? I'll still be a great avatar, and you gotta deal with it!" While I find her depression over the sudden loss completely understandable it really bothers me how the show supports the notion that unlike all the people who only have one element at most who just have to deal with their situation Korra simply can't be happy unless she's special and has control over all four.
Stomaching the returning of the bending abilities would be a bit easier if it took at least some effort on Korra's part, but no, she just gets everything handed to her because... she was sad and miserable enough? The narration may say that she called Aang, but to me it didn't look like she was trying to do anything, she was just sitting there with Aang being the one to initiate the contact ("I can FINALLY speak with you now since you're depressed enough that your mind is open to change yadda yadda yadda"). Then add the utterly boring Makorra to the mix and Korra gets everything she ever wanted to crown the perfectly happy ending. Meeehhhh.
I will be somewhat assuaged if in the second season it turns out she only got the avatar state and can only control the elements while in it or some other limiter, but I don't see that as a likely outcome.
2. Clannad After Story
's reset button ending
It was going so well, was it really necessary to ruin everything!?
Nagisa's death was the best thing ever to happen to the series. A harem series where the main guy has to deal with the death of his wife and learn to find happiness in the surviving daughter was pure gold. We get to see tons of character development where he grows into a responsible adult and fixes his troubled relationship with his father. Wheee!
Except then we hit the reset button and return in time to the moment of the childbirth, except that this time Nagisa doesn't die! Nothing sad happens at all, the family lives happily ever after! The main guy never experiences the trauma, it never happened! All the interesting character development right down the drain! In exchange we get a perfectly happy cutesy-wutesy ending!
And then in the end we even have the ever-annoying Fuuko waste minutes to say one sentence to crown the epic failure. I prefer to think the last episode didn't happen and invent a more suitable fanfiction closure instead.
Zuko's magic fever in Avatar the Last Airbender
Even if I hadn't been spoiled about the fact that Zuko turns good it would've been obvious from the first few episodes anyway. How this would happen is what interested me; characters who are jerks but learn to be less of a jerk after going through hell are what I'm really excited to see. Zuko's suffering from various reasons and slowly starting to think if it really is worth it had been delicious to watch (the more he suffers the more entertained I am), and at the end of the second Book I was ready for him to turn a good guy. We see him even get a date, and he is visibly distraught when he decides to free Appa. Then... he falls sick? And when he gets up he is suddenly a completely different person, all happy with his uncle who himself is a bit bamboozled by the sudden change! Yaaaa!
When I first saw it I was... less than pleased that the turning point in his character I had been waiting for some 40 episodes happened offscreen when he was sleeping, because of some magical fever that had never been mentioned earlier.
When I've thought about this later I've noticed that maybe the magic fever was a cause of the character development and not the other way around, but the insane "tee hee hee uncle I'm so happy to serve tea in your shop let's hug <3 <3 <3" twist still came out of nowhere and I hate it. I was so happy when he ended up joining Azula anyway and we got a proper redemption later and the drama about how he finally got what he wanted but realised it actually wasn't what he wanted at all was most likely a lot better than if he had joined the good guys sooner, but the magical sickness still taints my Avatar watching experience badly.
top 6 best scenes
Heads rolling in Rose of Versailles
Was it so that Rosalie was the only character to survive to the end? Marie Antoinette and the king were executed and Oscar and Andre died in combat (and wasn't Oscar terminally ill anyway?). Then there was that bitchy stepsister of Rosalie's who died as well. And count Fersen too. And Marie Antoinette's young son died of an illness onscreen. Yaaaaa!
Considering what the manga is based on it was no surprise that Marie Antoinette bit it, but I didn't see Oscar or Andre dying as well. When Andre died I was way too genre-savvy for my own good; it took me long to realise he had actually died and not just received an extremely lethal dangerous wound that would be healed anyway because of love and miracles after Oscar had wangsted enough over it. lol no. And while when you think about it it IS Marie Antoinette's story, but because of Oscar's fame and popularity I was tricked into believing that she was the main character instead. So when she was shot to death in volume eight out of ten I was very confused with all the "huuuh? what do we have in the last two volumes with the main character dead?!?!".
But seriously, why can't more shoujo be like this? All the others I seem to find are about a lame teenage girl (often the same stupid, klutzy and annoyingly cheerful airhead) who seeks true vuw at the age of fifteen or something like that. Reason I don't read much shoujo nowadays.
5. Princess Tutu ending
I was seriously surprised how the show actually stuck to its "be yourself" theme. I expected it to go "be yourself, except if you're a duck with a crush on a human and the main character, then you get a pass and you can be a human instead!". I mean, of course the shoujo heroine must get the perfect ending with her boyfriend, the rules don't apply to her! I was very pleased with Ahiru remaining a duck (even if it would've been ridiculously easy and convenient to write her transform back to human with Fakir's magical story writing powarz). And Fakir and Ahiru (duck or not) make a cute pair. Well done!
4. Irresponsible Captain Tylor
Great and fitting ending for the goofy series, both epic and silly at the same time. And great choice for the background music too.
Nagisa's death in Clannad After Story
During the whole series all story arcs had a happy ending. Rivalling gangs make peace out of respect for the other gang's dead leader and his cute sister! The main characters manage to arrange a memorable wedding to a friend's sister! A withdrawn girl learns to make friends and deal with her sad past! Main guy has a tough job but it's worth it because his cute wife is waiting him at home! Main girl dies by childbirth! A teddy bear is passed from hand to hand from the other side of the worl- wait, what?
Apparently everyone and their mother except me knew of Nagisa's death before the show even aired. I was very shocked that something bad could happen in the present time and not flashbacks when everything else had always turned out happily. I'm not a fan of sugary happy stories so whenever something like this happens I get super excited. Finally something good!
2. How to train your dragon - Test Drive
Great way to show the building trust and friendship between Hiccup and Toothless, looks gorgeous and has fantastic soundtrack.
Zuko and Iroh reunion in Avatar the Last Airbender
Zuko and Iroh's relationship is the kind of relationship story I want to see, all the pairing nonsense can stay away.
One specific thing that I noticed about Zuko's story was how he managed to find his own way himself. I guess I've watched too much stories where a troubled character can only find the light through the power of friendship (or love) when their friends come to support them at their darkest hour. So I was fully expecting that it would be Aang and company who somehow get an angsty and unwilling Zuko to join their group and help him get over his honour obsession and become a better person or something like that. But! Instead, we have Zuko doing some introspection, and after a lot of angst, a redemption failure and some more angst he decides to change his ways himself! Sure, Iroh's influence was obvious, but in the end he was the one to make the final decision, entirely separate from what the Gaang was doing. And as a complete opposite to my prediction he was the one who actively tried to join Aang's group and the others were not so keen on his presence and not the other way around. Not that there's really anything bad with stories with friends helping each other overcome their problems, it's just that I've seen it so many times that an alternative version of a more self-made-man was refreshing.
Background penguins from Mawaru Penguindrum.