When the dead refuse to die

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“Shikabane Hime: AKA” or “Corpse Princess: AKA” is action-packed and tackles a weird subject. Makina, the heroine, is already dead but she still exists among the living. She hunts down the living dead like her and blasts them to Kingdom Come using two guns. It seems she needs to whack a certain number to achieve her goal which isn’t revealed in the first episode though.

But fighting the undead can be a tough assignment and she gets the stuffing walloped out of her in more than one instance. However, she gets revived by the priest who runs a local orphanage. He and other men back up Makina during her hunts.

Ouri Kagami, a teen who was raised in the orphanage, sees one such resurrection when a talking cat wakes him up and takes him to the temple where a beaten up and unmoving Makina lies. He later moves out of the orphanage and on his way to his new apartment witnesses Makina plummeting to the ground. She was fighting with a serial killer who turned into some vampire/monster hybrid.

Copying what he saw at the temple, Ouri holds the still form in his arms and Makina awakens. Does this mean Ouri will later be involved in her later adventures? Well duh Sherlock. It’s called foreshadowing.

No one stinted on the making of this show so the animation, the background and the music are top notch. Here’s hoping the show won’t disappoint later on,

Of fairies, charming rogues and a fairy doctor

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An anime season wouldn’t be complete without a shoujo show or two. And this fall’s offerings include the shoujo series “Hakushaku to Yosei” or “Earl and Fairy” as the fansubbers called it in English.

Lydia Carlton, who has huge green eyes and masses of red hair, is a fairy doctor which is a term used for those who act as liaisons between humans and fairies. It seems Lydia inherited the ability to see and talk to fairies and assorted spirits from her late mother. Her companion is Nico, a spirit who takes the form of a talking cat. He drinks Scotch and walks on two legs when he can.

But Lydia lives in the Victorian age when many people don’t believe in such things anymore and just see her as some kook. She leaves her Edinburgh home to visit her father in London. On the way, she is waylaid by some men and ends up on the run with a charming rogue who calls himself Lord Edgar, the successor of the legendary Blue Knight Earl.

The Blue Knight held titles in England and the Fairy Nation. Edgar wants the Knight’s Noble Sword of Merrow which would allow entry into the fairy world and so recruits Lydia to help him in his search. He also lies shamelessly to others about why they’re traveling together and flirts with her at every opportunity. And like many other shoujo heroine, Lydia blushes, gets annoyed, tells him to stop but somehow likes the attention. ( I would have kicked him where it hurt already.)

But blonde, mauve-eyed Edgar is not a good man. He is the scion of a nobleman who when accused of treason, kills his family and himself. Edgar, the lone survivor, gets sold into slavery and does everything to survive. He is a thief, a liar and a suspected killer.

The one who actually did the killing turns out to be his servant, Raven, who has fairy blood and a bloodthirsty sprite inside of him. Raven’s sister, Ermine, also served Edgar but it seems she was killed or died.

Edgar tells Lydia he isn’t a descendant of the Blue Knight but believes if he gets the sword, he can turn an impostor into the real thing. However, there are hints he is the successor since why else would Raven be able to obey him and there’s two other characters following them around who are definitely not human.

Their nemesis is Gotham, the son of a doctor who experimented on criminals and took their brains. Gotham also wants Lydia to get the sword and much of the problem is caused by him planting false stories about Edgar and trying to capture the couple.

I don’t mind watching the show but it really doesn’t rank very high on my list right now. Edgar knows he is cute, poses a lot and lays on the charm too thickly. And like all bishounens, he gets surrounded by sparkles or flowers. The series also appears to be a reverse harem which means Lydia will have a bevy of beaux to choose from.

Let the fangirl squealing commence.

The woman in red

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I don’t think I’ll be getting much sleep from now on since there’s a bunch of interesting shows that came out this fall in Japan. This includes “Kurozuka” which is based on a 10-volume manga by Takashi Noguchi that is not for kids at all. The manga is an adaptation of a novel.

I saw the first episode and was wowed by the animation, the CGI and intriguing storyline. The anime version also toned down the graphic content of the manga and I think the story still stands.

“Kurozuka” opens with Minamoto no Yoshitsune or Kurou being chased by armed warriors he thinks are minions of his older brother, Yoritomo, who wants him dead. His brother is the first shogun of Japan.

Kurou and his underling, Benkei, end up in the mountains where they stumble upon a cottage and a beautiful woman in red. Kuromitsu, as the woman is called, doesn’t question their cover story that they are a monk and his assistant seeking shelter for the night. She allows them to stay as long as they want with the caveat they stay away from her room in the back.

She seems to be taken with Kurou and he certainly likes what he sees.

But there comes a time when he looks into the room and discovers Kuromitsu’s secret. She is a vampire and an immortal. She offers him a chance to be with her for eternity. End of episode one.

The story spans a 1,000 years so we will see the characters in modern times in other episodes. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Hell-bent on solving mysteries

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Yako Katsuragi, 16, is known for eating like a pig and solving mysteries, The public refers to her as “the high school girl detective” or sometimes “the piggish detective.” Her mother is abroad as far as she knows but the elder Katsuragi is actually in South America trying to unravel the mystery of her husband’s killing.

Before she became a detective, Yako’s father was found killed and decapitated in a bloody room locked from the inside. The cops labeled it a suicide. Uh how is that even possible? The poor man killed himself then cut off his own head?

Anyway, Yako is not really the one who solves the cases in “Majin Tantei Nogami Neuro” or “Demon Detective Neuro Nogami.” The teen is merely a front for Neuro Nogami, a demon who eats mysteries. He devoured all the mysteries in hell so he came to earth looking for more.

Anyone who sees this show would wonder why the public would think Yako is a detective since all she does is say, “And the culprit is … you!” and points out the guilty party. Neuro posseses her and makes her do the pointing too, As her assistant, he also explains how she solved the mystery. And people give her all the credit? Duh.

The evildoers are then gobbled by Neuro in his bird form, Well at least their evil intent is what he eats.

Yako learns to be a detective of sorts later on. And the show doesn’t get really interesting until midway when a serial killer/thief named Sai pops up. But I won’t spoil it for you by telling what happens the rest of the series.

A brief but magical life

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In anime, the guy sometimes doesn’t get the girl in the end and not everyone lives happily ever after. People get hurt or abandoned. Love doesn’t conquer all. The hero dies. Some series end like it was just another day in the life of the characters.

When I was young I favored shows that had a happy outcome or at least promised some sort of happiness in the future for the protagonist. I’m not a kid anymore.

Life can be tragic, brief yet still beautiful.

“Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora” or as Wikipedia translates it “Things That are Precious to a Mage: Summer Skies” was one of two series shown in Japan this summer which caught my interest.

The animation is done in an unusual way as you can see from the three scenes I included here. It’s as if someone drew on photographs. The characters are simply drawn but they move in a world that looks very realistic.

The short series focuses on Sora, a teen living in a small town who gets accepted to a summer internship program in Tokyo. She is a mage since her late father was also a magic user. Mages are part of this world. They get trained by the Bureau of Magic which sends them out to fulfill requests by ordinary folks.

This is not a world like Harry Potter’s so don’t expect to be awed by the effects or requests. It’s all quite boring actually. Kinda like having the city repair the pothole in front of your house except the workers use magic to do it.

Sora is a country gal awed by the big city. One can imagine she’d be easy prey for any grifter. But she has plenty of magic powers and tries her best to make sure the clients are satisified with the job she’s done.

She befriends several people from the program which include Gota, a teen who didn’t realize he had magic powers until his father admitted he gave up being a mage. His mother left saying she could not live with a liar and Gota was thrust into a world he knew nothing about. His magical abilities seem close to nil until Sora helps him out.

They also fall in love but Sora carries a secret.

SPOILER ALERT. DON’T READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE PLOT TWIST

She is dying which explains the sometimes extreme reaction she has when she feels she has failed or not lived up to the client’s request.

Sora graduates with the rest of her class, returns home to Biel and dies after she fulfills a promise she made to her dead father.

Gota finally visits her town years later wearing as a necklace the stone Sora gave him. The viewer is shown how the others have fared as well.

Some folks might just groan at this series and find something else packed with action or fanservice. Consider the show a snapshot into a girl’s short but memorable life. Sora made her brief existence count by helping others or making them happy, For her, it was enough.