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,

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.

Anime hits and misses

Here are some of the newest anime to grace or litter the anime landscape this year.

i-2311b22a005626bbc724f51c663aadee-zombieloan.jpg“Zombie Loan” features three teens with an unusual part time job. Michiru Kita can see dark rings around people’s necks which means they’re about to kick the bucket. This skill is used by two of her classmates, Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, who are known at school as Boys A and B. They are the only survivors of an accident that killed many. Actually they died and are just extending their life because of a deal struck. Characters are drawn elongated and faces are very angular. Everyone looks like they subsist on one lettuce leaf a day. Action show. Has some humor. Nice Jrock opening and ending songs. Title refers to their employer. So far, it’s watchable.

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In “Oh Edo Rocket”, Seikichi Tamaya lives in one of the row houses in Edo where the poor congregate. It is the era when luxuries like fireworks have been banned by the ruling government. It is a blow to our hero who is a fireworks maker. A girl who looks like that alien chick Eureka from “Eureka 7″ asks him one day to build a rocket that could reach the moon. One of the ugliest anime I have seen this season. Terrible attempts at humor. Let’s face it. I have less than 100 years on this planet so why waste it on a show this pedestrian and hideous-looking? Next!

i-2e5b49f6c0c4d7b58564aad93fb31aee-princessressurection.jpg“Kaibutsu Oujo” or “Princess Resurrection” tells the tale of Hiro Hiyorimi and how he ends up living in the household of a princess who grants him an immortality of sorts. His sister had invited Hiro to stay with her now that she’s been hired as a live-in maid or housekeeper at a mansion on top of a hill. Her employer turns out to be this young woman Hiro pushed out of the way of falling steel beams. Hiro dies but she brings him back to life. This comes at a price for Hiro. He is now her servant and often puts his carcass in front of her whenever some monster goes after his black-clad mistress. He also doesn’t live long and must continually be revived by Princess. Typical anime character designs. Seen four episodes. Eh. Would do in a pinch if I’m craving anime but nothing special about it. Could easily turn into a monster-of-the-week type of show. Tolerable for now.

Bad blood

So I borrowed the first four episodes of a series called, “Black Blood Brothers” and wished I underwent root canal instead. It takes talent to turn out anime this lame. OK I’ll be nice and call it mediocre.
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We see a ruined city and vampires attacking people. Then a brooding guy in a red outfit and cape asks his young boss to lift the barrier around their building and he wipes off the attacking horde with his silver sword. Turns out he’s a vampire of the old blood and the undead he annihilated were a parasitic type of vampire called the Kowloon Children.

The bad guys were helped by a lady vampire who had some ties to Mochizuki Kojiro – the guy in the red outfit. And we get a hint that the lady vampire betrayed Kojiro and his yet unnamed blonde love interest. His lady love has gone the way of the Dodo bird too.

Years later, Kojiro and his younger brother, Kotaro, return to Japan to seek the safety of the Special Zone where certain vampires live under the auspices of humans. Kowloon Children aren’t allowed into the Special Zone unless invited by a human. The brothers are stow aways on a ship that becomes a battleground between armed human special forces and a group of vampires trying to sneak into the Special Zone.

Of course our hero and his brother get dragged into this mess. The brothers, who are from an old line of vampires, run into a human whose job is to be a liaison of sorts between the red bloods (humans) and black bloods (vampires). Oh yeah, there’s also a group of brothers who have aligned themselves with the vampire lady we met in the first episode. And it looks like they’re up to no good, turning people into crazed vampires.

Kotaro gets kidnapped by a group of Kowloon Children vampires so his big brother takes out his trusty sword and goes off to rescue him. I have no idea what happened afterward since I didn’t borrow the next episode. The show just didn’t interest me enough.

There are better vampire shows out there. Go watch “Hellsing” instead or “Vampire Princess Miyu” (OVAs only) or even “Lunar Legend Tsukihime.” Pass on this one.

Sword-wielding teens with large appetites

Saya lives in Okinawa with her adopted father, the ex-soldier George, and her adopted siblings, Kai and Riku. This teen likes to pole vault, hang out with her friend and eat a lot. But Saya doesn’t remember her past and routinely gets blood transfusions. Then strange things start to happen around town. She sees a strange man playing cello in public who seems familiar to her. A monster kills a man at school and goes after her. The cellist appears to help her and tells her to fight.

Just who is Saya?

Saya’s true identity is one of the main story threads in “Blood+”, a 50-episode anime that ended its run not too long ago in Japan. Saya is familiar to anime fans from the movie, “Blood the Last Vampire”. “Blood +” further elaborates and expands on her story.

We learn what Saya is, the reason why she fights and why that mysterious cellist called Hagi acts like her bodyguard/assistant when we all know he’s the main love interest. Personally, I found him too dull and liked another of Saya’s suitors – the suave and charming Solomon. But alas, Solomon and Saya are not meant to be. (Pouts and slaps scriptwriter.)

Some folks pointed out that the show was bogged down by too many subplots. Let’s see. “Blood +” also deals with the questionable actions of the American military, the clash between two secret organizations, other love interests, a fatal sibling rivalry, a new species with unusual DNA, manmade creatures who bemoan their sad fate, semi-decent sword fights and a plot to populate the world with blood-sucking monsters. What else did I miss? You get the drift.

Other fans were disappointed with the ending and complained about the lackluster “boss fight” as if the show was some video game and the final episode was the last level. Puhleez. Sure, I would have wanted a better payoff for the time spent watching all 50 episodes and the headache I got tearing up at certain parts but the show wasn’t that bad.

It could have been great though.