Gabe Finally Watches: Nana

Nana tells the story of two 20-year-olds named Nana that have a chance encounter on a train to Tokyo—probably the most American-style setup for a josei I’ve ever seen. And the Western influence doesn’t stop there. From the apartment the two end up sharing, to the burger/bar the girlier Nana frequents, nearly everything about the series makes a point of distancing itself as far from your typical Japanese dramas as possible.
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As God Dictates: The Tatami Galaxy Review

There are some series that warrant multiple viewings due to their story. Others warrant multiple viewings simply due to the beauty of their animation. Then there are those special series that excel at both, all while giving you that warm fuzzy feeling come the final episode.

Tatami Galaxy_title

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Iron Man Anime: Initial Thoughts

East meets West mashup projects are always fun. Though I’m not sure if the same can be said for the Iron Man anime.

Part of a four-part project, Iron Man is the first of four Marvel titles to be adapted into a 12 episode short series by Madhouse animation. Now for the most part, mini-series are fun little bite-sized shows meant to tell a simple yet meaningful story over its short run of episodes. In the case with the Marvel anime project, however, it seems like even that much will come off as quite the hurdle. Since the project’s announcement two years ago, it was clear that fans would be split in opinion, some all for the jump to anime adaptations, while others preferring such liberties with some characters not be taken at all. With the four announced series to be Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men, and Blade, the field was set, viewers waiting to see just how well the project would start.

Enter the Iron Man anime. Let me just start by saying that I’ve never been the biggest of Iron Man fans. Growing up while Marvel’s ‘90s animated adaptations of their bigger titles were airing, Iron Man seemed the most distant of characters to me, having practically nothing of interest to my five year old self. He was some kind of businessman, who according to any and all pop culture at the time automatically made him a douche character that I didn’t want any part in. Still, I guess it’s better than changing him to some kind of teenage rich-kid in an attempt to appeal to the kiddies in a Nicktoons show 14 years following its original animated series.

I don't think anyone was ready for this.

Back to the anime at hand, protagonist Tony Stark’s made it to Japan with some kind of “go green” project that viewers were probably only half-listening to in anticipation for a fight scene. Still being known for a company that specialized in weaponry, however, it seems like all of Japan is a bit skeptical about Stark, believing he has some kind of ulterior motives. Though as much such was said, you’d find it rather hard to believe considering how well he wins over a crowd in an act of showboating involving his new Iron Man suit, the Dio, alongside some airplanes.

The Dio has been made in anticipation for Stark’s retirement as Iron Man, apparently already having some Japanese people in mind to pilot the new suit. But in typical superhero fashion, something goes wrong in the middle of his showboating and Stark is forced to abandon the suit to be recovered by his men at a later time. With apparently no men to pick him up, he takes advantage of his situation and gets a lift from conveniently close to the site of his crash spunky girl reporter whose actual name probably won’t matter in the long run.

Following the awkward car interview to his place, Stark arrives to his place where his men (er, I guess lady and three men) report in on the Dio. Completely ignoring the fact that something went wrong with the suit, one of the pilots tries it on only to be “brainwashed” (yeah, I don’t get it, either) by the suit which pulls an Evangelion and goes into berserker mode, killing the other two pilots and escaping HQ. Being prepared for anything, Stark dons his original suit and catches up with the rogue Dio only to meet up with Scorpion—part of the Zodiac organization and apparent baddie of the series.

Even ignoring the fact the Zodiac will more than likely be made up of 11 more villains, spanning the remaining 11 episodes in the series, the Iron Man anime just feels rather stiff, lacking any kind of charm that’s expected of well-written American action animations as well as any crazy-awesome fight scenes expected of even your most standard shonen anime. In that sense it reminds me a lot of Cubix… except with less creepy character designs and not Korean.

Rainbow: Final Thoughts

Is it some kind of unspoken rule that particular seasons of shows must adhere to a certain number of episodes? While the episode limit doesn’t hinder some shows (Gurren Lagann; 26 episodes), it definitely hurts a majority that otherwise could have been just as good as the manga preceding it (Death Note; 37 episodes). That said, I was surprised to find that my anime of the moment, Rainbow, came to an end this week, at a measly 26 episodes.

While I haven’t read the original manga by George Abe, checking out its Wiki page alone is clue enough that those watching the anime only have been gipped—the number of volumes totaling at 22. Even assuming that the manga was crazy text-heavy, resulting in the watering down of some volumes when adapted, I still think the series could have easily gone for at least ten more episodes… especially when considering just how little we still know about the main cast.

Without spoiling anything, the series seems to be fully aware of how little time they’ve been allotted and began to rush things significantly in their finale, tying pretty much everybody’s stories in mere minutes, literally hitting up each person’s epilogue one-by-one in a sloppily done narration. From the handful of talk I’ve heard about the series, one gripe most people have had with it was its cheesy narration. Though honestly, considering how the series takes place in a post World War Japan, the drama and cheese factor were practically expected. Every episode was done in this manner, as narrated by a mysterious female who we can only assume must have been one of the handful of female leads in the story itself, but are never actually given a straight answer to… something that seemed to be a trending topic for the series.

Starting off the series, you get a solid introduction to each character and how they relate to the rest of the characters in a world that seems to continuously be working against them. As the series progresses, though, and focus begins to shift from the characters as a group to the characters individually, you begin to see some favoritism in the writing as to just who we should be rooting for the most among the main cast—a rather unexpected move. As much I liked the quirkiness of some guys like Turtle and Cabbage, I was heavily disappointed to find that the series came to a close without Soldier getting an episode of his own. Sure, the whole “life of a soldier” thing has been played out to death, but we barely even get much of a story out of him even though he clearly has one to tell. Meanwhile, we’re expected to be sympathetic for characters like Mario in such little time that when the finale ends up becoming his story, I just feel let down.

Though I guess if I had to choose one character as an allegory on Japan's relations with America...

Another complaint about the series was in its form of villains, at least in the incredibly short first arc of the series. Motivation aside, it felt like if you were given a blatantly creepy character design, chances are you’d end up being a villain. After the “reform school” episodes, though, big changes in the series’ predictability come about, with enemies coming up from the most unexpected places. Considering the narration-format of the series, I would have enjoyed some kind of comment in the show made about this, especially taking into account how the main cast moves out of the frying pan of prison and into the fire of the real world.

Maybe it was some kind of dealie with the show’s budget that led to such a low episode count? Maybe they knew that a series with such sensitive content would ultimately not do well in TV rankings? Maybe the author just wants us to read the manga instead. Whatever the reason, Rainbow – Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin has become one of many anime series to end up with a sloppy ending adaptation due to episode count limitations. It’s just a shame that it had to happen to such a critically acclaimed manga series.

External References:
– Rainbow Simulcast Subbed Episodes ( /

Rainbow: Initial Thoughts

I’ve always been a fan of the buddy genre. Whether it be Rugrats, Recess, The Weekenders, or even live-action like Friends and Community, a ragtag group of people who work as a team to solve their problems always seems to work as a good foundation for a series.

Enter Rainbow (Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin if you’re fancy)—the story of a group of teens during the ‘50s in Japan, all sent to prison for one reason or another, that rely on their camaraderie to survive behind bars.

I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but current prison shows in the US haven’t really been doing it for me. Maybe it’s the whole predictability factor combined with their cookie-cutter characters, but something about prison shows have just always turned me away.

Not true for Rainbow.

As feminine a name as can be, the series is far from such, covering the lives of six teens in jail post war. From the get-go, each character has some kind of distinguishing factor about themselves accompanied with a quirky nickname to match, which makes you already start to form a bond with them, believing that there must have been some kind of misunderstanding as to how they ended up in such a place to begin with. There, the group becomes cellmates with Anchan, who appears to have definitely seen better days. Honestly, the fact that each person in the one cell is around the same age to get along with the other is a bit hard to believe, though, considering the liberties most shows take in terms of plot, it’s entirely forgivable.

The fact that the setting takes place in Japan post WWII is enough of a change from your typical prison drama to entice viewers. And considering how Japan actually fared during the war, I find it interesting how such has even made it to Japanese television at all… though at least that explains the little note from the staff before the show starts. I would say something about it being strange to live in a country that’s lost a war, but then again I’m sure similar questions about being elitist obese kids is asked about Americans, so I’ll just stop there.

Six episodes in now, and I can definitely see myself following the rest of the series, my only complaint so far being that character designs for authority figures aren’t exactly the prettiest. Then again, in a show where authority figures are constantly shown in a negative light, I guess it would make sense for them to be ugly. Still, the constant use of rape-faces as a sort of bad guy constant is rather disturbing.

External References:
– Rainbow Simulcast Subbed Episodes ( /

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