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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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.

Old School Mecha

I found this on YouTube courtesy of andylau12345. Thanks dude. Hearing the “Voltes V” theme song brings back fond memories of watching mecha anime while I was growing up in the ’70s and early ’80s in the Philippines.

There were so many robot shows then, it seemed there was one mecha show every day. There was “Mazinger Z” with its weird villains and “Daimos” with its Richard/Erika love story. But “Voltes V” was my favorite with its tale of orphaned brothers and longing for a missing/dead father. Plus Voltes V usually dispatched the enemies by carving a V in their bodies with a sword. I always thought he did that to make sure the baddies knew who crushed them. That’s “V” for Mr. Voltes V. And don’t you forget it!

Of course even then I wondered why the evil guys never attacked the heroes as the robot was transforming. It seemed to me the best time to attack since the robot would be at its weakest. But why ask why.

The only other non-robot show I watched faithfully then was “Candy Candy” which dealt with the Cinderella-like life of one orphan girl. I was 9 when I saw the episode where Anthony, her first love, died in a riding accident or something like that. I bawled for an hour then memorized the sappy ending song. I remember sniffling again when I sang the song afterward. Hey, I was young and easily moved then.