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Archive for December, 2013

Little Women II: Jo’s Boys

Several thoughts after finishing this series. First, Nan makes an interesting narrator. She at least keeps things lively. Second, it is interesting how they expanded it and did stories not in the book, but they still fit. Also, they rearranged the order a bit. For example, Nan enters several chapters into the book, starting with Nat’s arrival instead. Here we start with Nan and Nat arrives later. Third, they keep with some of the serious themes of the book – choices and consequences, learning to be your best self, even death. Some impressive character development with many of the children at Jo’s school. Dan, Nat, and Nan particularly stand out. I liked this better than Daddy Long Legs but not as well as Akage no Anne. Now to find the time to watch the first Little Women series by World Masterpiece Theater…

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Legend of Kora Season 2

What to say about this. First, it is interesting that the main antagonists so far for this series have all been from the water tribe. I do hope they break this pattern up. Still, it worked well enough this time. After all, there are two water tribes. It would be realistic for there to be some conflict between them. Interesting family dynamics at any rate. We see both the good and bad side of government as the president of Republic City doesn’t want to interfere. He does have good reasons for this. The spirit element was interesting. Hardly any Iroh or Lin Beifong, which was sad. The twins are creepy. I think in a good way. Varrick is an interesting character in the best way. He reminds me of Howard Hughes. Mako wanting to be a detective was fine, though his relationship with Kora and Bolin wasn’t that enjoyable, though in all fairness it wasn’t enjoyable for him at this point too. Bolin becoming a movie star I didn’t like, though how they subverted it by the end was pretty good. The part about the spirits actually was pretty interesting, and yay for Uncle Iroh in the spirit world! I wasn’t sure about this season, but then they had the two-part flashback to Wan, the first Avatar, and I was sold on the rest. By the way, Wan is the coolest character ever. I was pleased that while in the end Kora managed to save the day, there are real consequences and people aren’t the same by the end. It will be interesting to see what they do for the next series.

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From Up on Poppy Hill

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This is the second work by Goro Miyazaki, son of the renowned Hayao Miyazaki, founder of Studio Ghibli. I didn’t see his first offering, but I loved From Up on Poppy Hill. This is a story of high school young love in the Yokohama of the 1960’s. The story takes two tracks, one focusing on Umi and Shun’s growing relationship, and the other on the high school student’s efforts to save their club house. Umi is quite an admirable character, looking after her younger siblings and grandmother while her mother is studying in America (her father was killed in the Korean War). And yet, she is still a realistic teenager, crying to her mother when she finally lets her feelings go. Shun is also fun for how passionate he is about saving the club house, but he also has his serious side, trying to figure out who he is. Which brings me to the animation. It may not have quite the dazzle and sparkle of one of his father’s films, but the story doesn’t need it. In fact, I would almost say the slightly more subdued artwork matches perfectly with the story – a love letter to a time period in history and in life. And the clubhouse is still quite imaginative. Some people might think the complication that arises between Umi and Shun is nothing, but personally I would disagree. All the characters shine, and I especially liked the executive the kids go see. The previous Ghibli film this reminds me of is Whisper of the Heart but with no magic. If you liked that one, you will probably enjoy this Ghibli film.

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To Terra (Manga)

Of course, once I saw the anime, I had to take a look at the manga. The art is quite interesting – basically older shojo, but in space. It works quite well for this character driven space opera, but may take some a bit of time to get used to. A few minor characters have less to do in the manga: Swenya, Jommy’s parents, Leo. There are many points expanded in the anime. A few different points are emphasized in the manga. There is no nonsense about Jommy going back home when everyone knows he can’t. Instead of escaping a second time from Superior Dominance government, it is his first meeting with Soldier Blue that truly ignites Jommy’s abilities for the first time. Soldier Blue dies at this point. The part about Jommy inheriting Soldier Blue’s memories is much more emphasized. Keith questions things much more, even if he doesn’t always ask his questions. Shiroe isn’t a latent Mu. There is a much bigger deal made about the Mu children born on Naska – those children born after are normal Mu. There is not the same shock at the condition of Earth when the Mu finally reach their destination. And while we basically get to the same place in the end, the final scenes play out much differently for Jommy, Kieth, and Tony.

If you enjoyed the anime, you might want to consider trying the manga – especially since it is being discontinued after this year.

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