Haridama Magic Cram School


Hello dear readers,

Once upon a time I read a manga called Haridama Magic Cram School, a one-shot manga of 5 chapters written by Atsushi Suzumi. I stumbled upon the 198 page book several years ago in a book store, and have read it many times since. It was one of the author’s first books, and I must say it is quite impressive.

As you may have guessed, the plot is about a student in a magical cram school. In the world of this story, magic is casted when one combines yin and yang (called “Yin-Yang pressure) which than travels through the being and allows both spells to be casted and take effect. Our young hero, an orphan named Kokuyo, is known as an “Obsidian”, someone who only has Yin or Yang, but not both, meaning they can’t cast magic alone. The obsidian he carries with him completes the yin-yang, but even with it he is unable to cast strong magic, and his sword attacks still do little damage.

At the start of the story we find him at the school with his sensei Sekiei when his childhood friend Harika arrives after a long absence. Harika is also an obsidian, her and Kokuyo are the only student’s at the school, and are often discriminated against. Often called weak and told to give up on their dreams of becoming sorcerers. The story tells of the twos struggle to overcome their weakness and learning to work together.

First page preview, now buy the book

The art in the manga is absolutely beautiful, each character is distinct and their actions are clear. Each panel flows nicely and it’s easy to identify what’s going on based on each picture. There are no generic character faces, and the backgrounds are quite lovely. I feel like each design was carefully planned and made to be read easily. I really do admire the art style, it works well for the genre it’s in and looks gorges. When I first bought the book, it was actually just to use as an art reference, than I read it…

The story was action pack and well done. Each chapter introduced a new component, and it all came together in the end. Each character had clear motivation and purpose; there was not one moment when I couldn’t understand why a character was doing something. This did take away from some of the story, leaving characters feeling quite 2-D several times when they announced their intentions for all to hear. I believe this to be due to the shortness of the story, Suzumi put so much story in so little space it would be hard to give many characters extra layers. The shortness hinders other things; some scenes feel rushed, not quite fitting in as well as other, better planned scenes. But an amazing thing Suzumi does is make the main characters grow so much in 5 chapters. I watched as 2 self-centered brats who no thought could do anything became two friends who had amazing potential.

This page is in Japanese, so you still have to buy the book. (unless you speak Japanese)

Overall, Haridama Magic Cram School it’s a good read, well worth the purchase. With strong leading characters, beautiful artwork, and a plot centered on teamwork and perseverance, it’s hard not to enjoy it. It brings together a magical world and intertwines it with real-life lessons. The ending was rather good too, Suzumi paints a lovely picture and allows you to take from it what you will, and even add your own touches. I’m not sure I could give Haridama Magic Cram School a rating other than ‘beautiful.’

You should really consider reading it,

PandaEatingATaco

Brigadoon: Marin & Melan


Good morrow my dear readers!

This summer I went to go see my best friend for the first time in 3 years; we did a lot of fun things, including staying up until 2 in the morning watching anime. One of the ones that we watched in was one of my friend’s favorites called Brigadoon: Marin & Melan. It’s a small anime airing between 2000 and 2001 of 26 episodes. It was directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani and produced by Sunrise studios.

The plot revolves around a 13 year-old orphan named Marin Asagi. When she was just a baby when she was found on the doorstep of a tenement house, and its inhabitants raised her. She, like many other orphans, seems to be picked on at school for absolutely no other reason than her misfortune. One day when she is given an award for an essay she wrote, the sky changes to a mirage, later found out to be the mysterious world of Brigadoon.

After being blamed for the mysterious event by her class mates, Marin goes home and is attack by a strange robot-like creature called a Monomakia. She runs around in a rather comical fashion before being saved by a Monomakia known as a Gun-Swordsman. After he saves her, when find out his name is Melan Blue, and his mission is to protect Marin, the “Creis”.

He has to kneel in order for her to even reach him.

The series follows the two on their adventures as they grow closer together and try to save both Brigadoon and Earth (or “the funny world”) from the Mutual Collapse. At first glance it seems to be little more than a magical girl story, as it progresses you find it is a magical girl story with a decent plot, convincing characters, and touching relationships. It is something like a coming-of-age story, we watch Marin blossom from an energetic  13 year-old who has little grasp on the world into a mature 13 year-old capable of risking her life to save it.

As Marin and Melan grow closer, there relationship grows from protector and protected to a kind of Father- Daughter thing, and then it gets a little uncomfortable as it blossoms into so much more. Technically, Melan has no age, but a good estimate would be that he is in his mid-20s. So he and Marin are at least 10 years apart, maybe more, and when you see them standing next to each other… It just doesn’t seem right. When my friend told me about that I became a little skeptic of the series, it just didn’t sound like it could work, but after watching it, you find it’s a gradual thing, and it works well after you gather more information.

So aside from the slightly-creepy-maybe-pedophilic relationship, the plot seems pretty good; solid story with decent twist and minimal flashbacks. The art on the other hand, could use some work. Art plays a big role in action scenes and dramatic moments, it needs to seem believable or it’s just comical. Let me tell you that I laughed through a good portion of dramatic moments, much to my friend’s dismay. My comments of how “the blood looked like sweet and sour” and how “that character shouldn’t just sit there” were not appreciated by her. I did still understand the mood it was going for, and could follow it easily and enjoy the plot, but I think the art did cause me to lose out on a little of the story.

This is not to say the art style is bad, its art style gives it character and helps it keep its slightly comedic appeal, but more the art done. Things like coloring, lighting, animation, and character movement seemed out of place at times, it looked unnatural when it was supposed to look natural. Characters would often disappear for moments in time only to be in the scene, standing where they were 2 scenes ago, watching as that one guy bleeds to death. A little bit of the corny art and character movement is to be expected though, Brigadoon: Marin & Melan was made a while ago, with less technology, and is not very well known with a small fan base.

Those fat guys? That’s supposed to be the team of Apollo 11.

I must say, I did enjoy the series, and what won me over was its comical side. There’s just something about Neal Armstrong getting fat and driving a cow submarine that I find funny. That and the out-landish little guy known as Lolo plus a lot of really well placed up-the-skirt jokes makes me quite satisfied with its comedic aspects. The plot twists are often quite surprising as well, I was only aware of them because my friend had already spoiled the ending for me; hence I knew everything before it happened.

Overall Brigadoon: Marin & Melan is a pretty good series. There is a something special

If you reach this point, you will cry.

about it, something that sets it apart from other anime, an original feel. I think it has something to do with how such a corny and silly anime can get so serious at times, I cried a little at the end. I’ve yet to find an anime that gives off the same feel, so even though it had some really weird moments, it still pulled through in the end for me, and normally I don’t like endings like it, but I did this time.

Man, all that and I didn’t even remember to cover the Mexican Yoda,

PandaEatingATaco

Here’s the Brigadoon trailer, it’s really corny.

Durarara!! Isn’t that fun to say?


Starting from the top left and going right: Shizuo, Izaya, Walker, Erika, Kadota, Masaomi, Mikado, Anri, Celty, Shinra, Simon, Namie, Mika, Seiji

Hello again,

So a few days ago I was going back and looking at the manga and anime reviews I posted, checking to see which ones I had and hadn’t done. It came to a shock to me that I had yet to do anything on Durarara!! (or DRRR!! As some like to call it). So after banging my head against the wall a few times for my bad memory, I decided that I had to do a post on what is truly one of my favorite anime.

Durarara!! is about the city of Ikebukuro and the strange events that go on there. One of the first characters we meet is a young Ryūgamine Mikado who comes to the city after a life only in a small town after invited to attend a local high school by his childhood friend, Kida Masaomi. After arriving at Ikebukuro station, Mikado finds Masaomi and the two go out to the town together. Meanwhile, in a different part of town, a woman with no head rides off into the night on her horse, who is disgusted as a motor cycle. She’s dressed entirely in black, and wears a helmet to cover her headless-ness.

That’s right, it’s the dullahan, Celty Sturluson, and what is she doing? Well, she’s looking for her stolen head of course! That and creating more local legends for the people of Ikebukuro, as well as saving them form the local street gangs. Speaking of Street gangs, in Ikebukuro there are 3 main street gangs: The Blue squares, the yellow scarves, and the Dollars. The yellow scarves and blue squares had a rather large fight before Mikado came to Ikebukuro, and seem to have died down quite a bit in there activity. The dollars on the other hand are a mysterious gang who has no color, meaning anyone can be a dollar. Not much is known about them or their leader, but Masaomi tells Mikado to avoid them at all costs.

Speaking of things that Masaomi told Mikado to avoid, we have yet to go over Ikebukuro’s favorite informant, Orihara Izaya. We first meet Izaya as he’s trying to convince a girl (or some girls, in the case of manga and the light novels,) to kill herself by jumping off a building. It’s not that Izaya had a grudge against her or that he didn’t like her, on the contrary, Izaya claims to love her, and everyone else in the human race! Of course, he does not claim to love any human as an individual, and the kind of love he speaks of is more like the kind of love a dog has for his chew toy. There is one human that Izaya doesn’t love, but in fact hates, and that’s Heiwajima Shizuo (dubbed ‘Shizu-chan by Izaya).

Shizuo is a chain-smoker who runs around dressed as a bartender and is often seen trying to beat the crap out of Izaya. But what is this? He just threw a vending machine?! That’s no surprise when you consider he has super human strength and an extremely short temper. Although sweet to his friends, once he’s set off, there is literally no stopping him (you could probably shot him and it’d probably do little more than make him angrier.) He is a prominent figure in Ikebukuro, known for his dyed hair, strange choice in clothing, and of course, the super human strength. Some of the only people who can stop his massive rampaging are Celty and Simon.

Simon Brezhnev is an extremely large black Russian who sells sushi for a living (find me a more culturally diverse character than that an anime, I dare you.) At first, Mikado is scared of the rather large Russian, but later finds him to be very gentle, only fighting when necessary.

We haven’t even gone over half of the important cast, and yet something tells me we never could. That is one thing I love about Durarara!!, it is not a story about one character, but a story of a whole town. Each episode teaches you something new about the colorful cast, and how each story intertwines into one. How does the Slasher relate to an online chat room? Hard to say, but you should find out.

The characters are beautifully made and each episode follows into the next, showing you a new side to its complex story. The art is well done, and between the moments that make you laugh and the ones that make you cringe, it’s got quite a bit of diversity.  Sadly, it is not a series one can just pick up in the middle, with so many characters and only 24 episodes, its often best experienced if you watch all episodes, not necessarily in order ( I think it make just as much sense forwards as it would backwards.)

The other thing about it is that it draws you in, but the anime ending leaves much to be desired. It’s not surprising to hear once you find out that it’s based on a series of light novels by Ryohgo Narita. So far there are 11 in the series, and I’m told there is supposed to be about 12 total. The best part is, if you watch the anime, it picks the story right back up at volume 4, so you don’t have to worry the other 3 volumes! Now here’s the bad news, they are only available for purchase in Japanese. If you happen to read Japanese, then you can purchases them here, but if you’re like me and can’t read Japanese, then purchase the Japanese books anyway (to support the author) and read some of the translated volumes here. Sadly, only volumes 4-6 and 9 have complete translations, you don’t have to read 7-8 to understand 9, but it I’m told it’s somewhat helpful.

If enough people purchase the merchandise, we might get a second anime season or a movie (maybe English translated books?) So support the author!

PandaEatingATaco