The good, the bad and the ugly

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With the new year just around the corner, I find myself mulling over anime I saw this year. Some were horrible, a few were excellent but most were entertaining enough.

I noticed many of the shows I watched had a supernatural or magical theme. I don’t even remember seeing anything mecha-related. Sorry but giant robots leave me cold.

I have to feed the artsy fartsy side of moi now and then so I gravitate toward shows that look unique, tackle an unusual subject matter or tell a tale in a way I haven’t seen before. “Mononoke”, which deals with the adventures of an unusual medicine peddler, fit that bill. You should check out the show when you have the chance. I suppose you could say “Mononoke” was a spinoff of “Ayakashi” since the peddler was a character in one of the featured tales there.

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Yes, I also saw my share of shonen anime from “Naruto Shippudden” to “D. Grayman” this year. The latter ended recently and was a letdown. Since the manga isn’t finished, the animators decided to end the show just after the Black Order’s headquarters get attacked. Lame. I hope they later come out with movies.

Do stay away from the mess that is “Le Chevalier D’eon”. It is loosely based on a historical figure who was a spy for the king of France and who had a fondness for wearing women’s clothing. In the anime, he dons dresses when the ghost of his murdered sister possesses him. The show is a mishmash of historical figures involved in conspiracies, secret societies and other arcane stuff. While the animation is beautiful, the plot is too convoluted and unbelievable. And anyone who loves history better steer clear of this anime which plays fast and loose with the facts.

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He sees dead people …

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In “Hanada Shounen-shi”, we meet a potty-mouthed brat named Ichiro Hanada.

He is the village troublemaker; the bane of pets and neighbors. He calls his mother “demon hag” and his sister “fat and ugly”. He also doesn’t care much for school and would rather chow down than listen to his long-suffering elementary school teacher.

One day while fleeing from his enraged mother on a bike, he runs into the path of an incoming truck. Next thing he knows, his soul is watching things from afar and heading upwards. But he is sent back because it’s not his time yet.

Nine stitches later, he is back home. But Ichiro can now see ghosts which is bad news for him since he scares easily. The ghosts want him to do things for them like hand over a long-delayed Christmas present or tell a loved one to keep on living.

While this little scamp grouses about helping dead folks, Ichiro often gives in to their requests because he does have a heart. Along the way, Ichiro learns about people, love and life.

Ichiro and most of the cast are ugly. You can see for yourself in these samples. But there is a charm to the characters especially Ichiro’s dysfunctional family. Most of the episodes are worth watching and guaranteed to wring a tear out of the viewer. They don’t get too schmaltzy either.

I’m warning you though. This show is not for kids. There are plenty of toilet jokes and bawdy humor plus our hero prances around in the buff in several scenes.

I would recommend it for those 14 and above.

“Hanada Shounen-shi” is one of the few anime I’ve seen that uses American songs as the intro and ending to the series. It was a jolt to hear the “Backstreet Boys” to be honest.