Living with the unknown


A recent AP poll showed that a chunk of the population believes in ghosts. To be more precise, a third of those surveyed accept the existence of things that go bump in the night.

The line between this world and the next can be very thin, according to some folks. Now imagine if you can actually see and feel the supernatural. (Cue spooky music.)

That is the dilemma facing Shizuru and her younger sister, Mizuki, in “Mokke.” Shizuru can see ghosts, specters, etc while her sister gets possessed by them.

These traits are the very reason why the two are now living in the country with their grandparents. Their stern but loving grandfather apparently knows his way around such things and is called upon by folks to exorcise or placate these apparitions. Of course once doesn’t really get a sense of what their grandpa does for a living since viewers see him mucking about in the garden a lot or helping the farmers with their vegetables.

Their bespectacled parents visit now and then. Mother apparently cannot handle even talking about the supernatural and flew off the handle at grandpa when Mizuki casually mentioned she was raising a creature that brings its owner luck.

Grandpa means well but he’s not exactly the cuddly type. He told his grandkids one time they will have to learn how to handle some creatures on their own. Poor girls.

“Mokke” started life seven years ago as a manga by Takatoshi Kumakura. The characters are drawn way better in the manga than in the anime which began airing last month in Japan. This isn’t an action-packed show, neither is it scary. I look at it as a primer on Japanese supernatural beings and concepts presented in a kid-friendly package. It’s not a bad way to while away 25 minutes.

When anime turns bad

I liked “Shakugan no Shana” and looked forward to the second season. But now I think I was too optimistic.

After watching six episodes of “Shakugan no Shana II” I want to claw my eyes out.

Shana the red-eyed Flame Haze with the flaming sword and fiery master, Alastor, is back with Yuji the Mystes and the rest of the gang. The opening and ending songs are passable cute Jpop tunes. One could even say the opening song is Jrockish.

To recap, the world is a hunting ground for the denizens of the Crimson Realm who steal a person’s flame of existence. These denizens are the bad guys and the good guys are lords like Alastor and their Flame Hazes who try to maintain the balance of this world. (Cue pompous-sounding music.) A torch is a replica of a person whose flame of existence has been snuffed out. Torches are temporary and fade away when the flame inside their chest goes out.

Yuji Sakai is a Torch but a special one called a Mystes since he carries a treasure inside him. In his case it is called the “Midnight Lost Child” which reignites his flame at midnight. Technically, Yuji can live for a long, long time thanks to this. So everyone wants this treasure especially those baddies which include the Bel Masque group.

This season has disappointed me a lot. I wanted to see action but all I got so far was stale fare.

“Shakugan no Shana II” has degenerated into a high school love drama. Yeah yeah, the love triangle and pairings were visible in the first season but at least there was a more action-oriented bent to the show then. Now the viewer is subjected to episode upon episode of Shana or that boring girl who can cook (I think her name is Yoshida) getting jealous of Yuji and the latest transfer student.

The fact the transfer student looks remarkably like Hecate, one of the villains last season hints there might still be a plot that will compensate me for the hours I wasted watching this wanna be-Jdorama. Someone puhleez irk Shana so she can slash them with her sword. Anyone? Anyone?

Slashing bad anime for the greater good

There are many good anime shows that entertain as well as make you think. In the same token, there are scads of anime series and OVAs that need to be buried deep, deep under a landfill.

Part of the reason I started this blog a little over a year ago was to show folks that there is more to anime than
what the mainstream media has portrayed over the years. Anime fans also come in all shapes and sizes. We are not all geeky 13-year-olds who can’t get a date or 20-something slackers living in our parents’ basements.

And we don’t just watch a stream of cute blue-haired girls who transform magically into costumed heroines in order to save the world with the help of pals. There are many genres of anime done in different styles and tackling a wide range of subject matter.

I blog about shows I think are excellent and those not worth the ink used on the cells. Yep, I gush over the ones I like and rip the terrible animes that I see.

Let me introduce my online alter ego, “Ronin Ruby”, which I choose to slap on this blog instead of my mug. My pal Manny created her for me. She skewers animators who turn out cruddy products and slashes anime shows she deems not worthy. Of course I don’t expect people to like what I favor. Everything here is just my opinion.

Why ronin? I picked the term because it refers to a masterless samurai. I have no master who tells me or pays me to like certain anime shows. So I thought the name fits.