I went on an anime watching spree for some series that I'd glanced over before but never really picked up. All, of course, shoujo.
Now, let me start by saying that I'm not a fan of the shoujo genre; the drawings are typically done differently than shounen, and whereas shounen usually focuses on action and battles, shoujo focuses on close-ups and feelings. Shoujo is often typically drawn VERY differently. I don't mind the larger eyes, but in shoujo manga, it's sometimes hard to tell which character is which.
If possible, I look at the anime, first, these days.
The first anime I did a marathon of was actually one that's geared for younger girls. I'd give it a rating of 8+, and only because the word "sexy" was used a couple of times. This series is Jewelpet Tinkle.
Apparently, I started with the middle series, and I'm glad I did. After watching this one, I checked out the first and third seasons, and found them lacking; the first episodes of those didn't grab me as much as Jewelpet Tinkle (second season) did, nor did the characters.
I immediately empathized with Akari; the shy girl that cares a lot about other people to the point of sometimes ignoring herself, who starts off very unsure of herself and doubtful, but slowly gains confidence.
The other two seasons didn't have a character like that, not to mention that characters were repeated (the Jewelpets). Some of the episodes were pure comedy, while others mixed in comedy with more serious concepts, such as making and keeping friends and walking towards one's dreams.
All in all, if you can tolerate cuteness and don't mind mild "magical girl" transformations, it's worth watching.
The second anime I'm going to touch upon is Lovely Complex.
This is an anime that I passed up once before. I saw the manga description, but just wasn't interested in it at the time (plus, it's shoujo, and I'm still more into shounen than shoujo).
The anime really brings it alive, and actually keeps pretty parallel to the manga. Yes, there are some events that occur in the manga that don't in the anime, and the manga goes slightly further into plot arcs and stories than the anime, but both are equally enjoyable.
The best part? I could read the manga and know who was who.
Granted, I like the animation job better in the anime than the original drawings; I'm not a fan of the shoujo style where the lips are that prominant (which seems to be a common practice in shoujo romance manga).
Lovely Complex is a romantic comedy; there were times when I was out of my chair in laughter, and times when I was in tears. One episode had me wanting to laugh and cry at the same time.
I'll also admit, there's something about the Kansai-ben that's easy on the ears (for me, at least), so I enjoyed hearing the characters portrayed properly in Osaka. It was also different, since most anime/manga out there that take place in "modern day" are in the Tokyo region.
The characters come off as memorable and lovable. Otani and Koizumi are great protagonists, and it's a lot more realistic in the way they fell in love with one another; starting out arguing, then Koizumi realizes that she loves him but Otani can't see her that way just yet, then finally Otani figuring out how he really feels.
That sort of progression, while causing quite a few sad scenes for both sides (but mostly Koizumi), just feels more realistic than the typical romance stories do.
I watched the anime, then went and read the manga...then started to watch the anime again. It's definitely one of the best series I've seen in a while, and I'd recommend it to even people that aren't into romance that much. The comedy value balances out the romance, and it's not lovey-dovey romance (at least, not between Otani and Koizumi) like most romantic shoujo series have.
Finally, I've started to watch Bokura ga Ita...
...and I'm not very impressed. I might go searching to see if there's a manga version and try that, but so far, the anime is hardly "great".
Character designs...all of the characters always come off having this blank, spaced out look on their faces (except for when Yano is smiling, or when Nana is getting angry at him).
People say that Yano looks like Otani (Lovely Complex), and is like him in character...I think that's a far off and incorrect assessment. After watching only three episodes, compared to the first three episodes of Lovely Complex, these are two completely different characters.
Yano can be nice at times, but he's got this "mask" that he wears (either that, or he just acts like a jerk at times for kicks) to hide sad feelings and probably try to keep himself from being hurt again.
Otani, on the other hand, was energetic and bluntly honest; when he smiled, they were almost always genuine smiles. He came come off as being a jerk at times, but he's really very nice.
The two really are nothing alike, and that's the last I'll say of that.
The voice actress that plays Nana wasn't the best pick. I only know of a few voice actors whose work I really enjoy, but this one seems to just match the bland, blank quality of the characters.
In that aspect, I suppose she was a good pick for Nana. However, it makes the anime lose a lot of depth and impact, and it's hard to get into the characters when they look flat AND sound flat.
This anime does an effect that I can't stand in shoujo anime (and has actually caused me to drop a couple series), and that's a soft, white boarder around the corners of the screen. This effect is usually used to soften things and help get the mood going, but to me, it just makes it seem like a flashback or something.
I'm not saying all anime should be done in bright, vibrant colors (though, that never hurts)...it's just that this effect is one that annoys me to no end, particularly as the expressions of the characters or the characters themselves start to fade into that white boarder.
Characterization...very flat, again. I actually think the most developed character is Yano's late girlfriend, as that touches on the real facts with abuse (how the person being abused can't seem to help but go back to it). There's also Takeuchi, who stands out as a character.
Nana sometimes seems to show character, and sometimes doesn't.
Yano is typically either doing some (usually fake) smile, or jerking people around. Of course, there's also the times when he, like the others, are just being flat.
Perhaps the manga is different, but thus far, I'm not very impressed with the anime.
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