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Final Impressions: School-Live!

Oct 05 // Nick Valdez
When we last left the School Living Club, they were caught in quite a predicament. As zombies flooded the school, the four were separated and feeling pretty hopeless. Yuri was dealing with an infected Kurumi and whether or not she had to kill her, Miki was trapped in the basement after tracking down a possible vaccine, and Yuki was trying to fight her way through the school after finally breaking out of her delusion and coming to grips with losing her teacher, Megu-nee. When Yuki reaches the school's broadcasting room, she's nearly attacking by zombies herself before zombie Taroumaru comes to her rescue. When she realizes the zombies still retain some of their memories (and as evident from the last episode when zombie Megu-nee is seen writing the girls' names), she broadcasts that school is out of session and all the students are to return home. And this surprisingly works! As the zombies clear out, Miki is able to vaccinate both Kurumi and Taroumaru. Unfortunately, Taroumaru's been sick for too long so he loses his life in his weakened state (but after giving Miki some closure). I've never been good with dog death in media, so this hit me pretty hard. I know it's a cartoon and all, but he was such a cute puppy!  When the girls realize the school's no longer habitable after the attack (as the generators have been fried and most of the building has been damaged by fire), they decide to leave the school toward either a university or corporate building. Either way, the girls know that the people they deal with may not be friendly. But before all of that, to bring closure to this chapter in their lives, the girls hold a makeshift graduation ceremony and it's the most heartfelt scene of the series. I guess it's because I fell so hard for the premise (and it admittedly won't appeal to everyone in the same way since I'm so fond of cutesy things), but it as great seeing the girls finally grow up. Just like a real graduation into the real world, these girls have finally accepted that their lives have changed. There's no longer a lingering grief over the past, and each of the girls have accepted their own flaws. That's a major part of growing up, and the show absolutely nailed it. The greatest thing is the show didn't have to directly say all of this. Through silent moments and great art effects that truly show how much these girls' optimism clashes with the world's darkness, the finale brings a sense of closure to the viewer as well.  But looking at the episode's ending tag, there's more planned for these girls. I'm just not sure if I want more of this. This graduation episode brought everything full circle and tied up most of the loose ends (including the fate of Miki's lost friend, Kei), but I'm not sure I care about the rest of the stuff still open. For example, one of the bigger things is probably going to be investigating how much their high school knew about the pandemic beforehand and potentially finding a cure, but that's like so much generic stuff out there already. At this point, I'm content with what we've gotten. From the opening episode, this show's been building up to a end with its tight, twelve episode arc. The girls got a happy-ish ending with one of those "driving into the future" closers, the opening theme was reused for the final scene (as is expected from an anime finale), and lots of the tricks it employed here (like the surprising clash between its bright colors and dark monsters or its slowly changing opening credits sequence) won't hit as well the second time.  School-Live! was compelling, interesting, and most importantly unique. If it ever does get that second season, it'll be ruining what makes it so special. There's nothing else out there like it right now, and it should stay that way. 
Final School-Live! photo
I hope you had the time of your life
School-Live! (or Gakkou Gurashi!) nearly slipped under the radar. If you had no idea of the more sinister plot afoot, you'd probably skip the series thinking it's yet another show about four young girls doing young girl thing...

Annotated Anime: School-Live! episodes 7-11

Sep 25 // Nick Valdez
Episode 7 After a few episodes of flashback, we're back in the series proper. When Yuki brings up their mall outing, Miki briefly forgets she's supposed to lie about Megu-nee and Yuki nearly cracks her delusion as brief images of a grisly scene flashback. Miki thinks it's time to stop lying to Yuki since it's not really healthy, but Yuri simply states that she'll tell her soon. After Yuki stumbles on some stationary, the girls decide to take their mind off things for a bit and write some letters to folks on the outside. During all of this, Miki stumbles on a key leading to some place in the staff room but hides it from the other girls. After some shenanigans involving carrier pigeons, the girls send their letters through the sky and we find that Miki's written one for her lost best friend, Kei (the one who abandoned Miki at the mall in search of a better kind of survival).  Kei's probably a zombie, folks. It's usually how these things turn out.  Episode 8 Miki gives the key she found to Yuri as the two start searching the staff room for clues as to what it leads to. But before all of that, the girls start talking about the future. Naturally since Yuki is still stuck in her weird state of mind, all she can think about is graduation and potentially getting a job in the adult world. It's a sad conversation as the girls try and look positively toward their futures (Kurumi wants to be wife, Yuri wants to do something I forgot about already, sorry), but this all feels like it's leading up to something big. In fact, that's one of the most impressive parts of this show. Every episode feels like we're inching closer and closer to some kind of terrible end. Starting with the opening credits (which have been slowly getting more and more violent as the show progresses), helped along by the heavy amount of foreshadowing (each episode someone notes how more and more zombies are gathering outside of the school), and with happier moments like this, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And it does. The girls discover that Megu-nee's key led to a lockbox containing an emergency manual for the school when a biological weapon is released.  Episode 9 As the girls fret over the manual, which details why the school has multi-tired facilities and stuff like solar panels and gardens, Yuki takes their minds off of it with a suggestion: to turn the ugly water tank into a pool area for a pool day. Then it's a super happy, fan service heavy episode. I wouldn't think we'd get an episode like this in the series, but it sort of makes sense. It's something Shakespeare made famous. You see, back when Shakespeare was a big hit, people used to sit and watch plays for several hours. Naturally people would get bored if you kept the entirety of the play the same tone, so he'd add bits of levity every few acts in order to accomplish two things. First, it's to keep interest. If a program remained a flat, dreary tone throughout its duration, people wouldn't pay attention. Secondly, it's to make the coming bits of drama hit that much harder. And I think that's what's going on here. This episode is our last breath of fresh air before everything starts coming down. And if the episode's tag is anything to go by (as Taroumaru escapes downstairs to the basement and sees something tragic), it's going to be a doozy.  Episode 10 So here's a little trick as to how I write these annotations: I write these blurbs as I watch each episode rather than try to summarize them all at once. I only open with this because I want you to know that I was not ready for all of this chaos. At the end of last episode, we saw Taroumaru escape from his leash and run through the school so the girls wake up and go looking for him. As Kurumi follows his tracks downstairs into the basement, she finds an infected Taroumaru trying to bite her face off. After managing to lock him up in a room, she stumbles on the truly messed up thing: Megu-nee's zombie. Failing to stop Monster-nee's advance, Kurumi's bitten. As the girls try and figure out what to do now, Kurumi's condition worsens (and leads to an awful amount of screaming as the infection spreads) and the girls are split up as zombies break their way into the school. Yuki is locked in a room after zombies attack, Yuri's sitting with Kurumi and slowly breaking, and Miki is in search of the medicine (and possible antidote) the manual claims the school has but breaks down at the thought of losing Taroumaru. As the episode closes, and everything is traumatic for everyone, Yuki starts remembering the tragedy that sparked her mental breakdown.  Episode 11 Ugh, I need a breather. Deep - breath -, okay. As Yuki runs to Miki and gives her strength to go and search for the antidote, lightning strikes the school's generators and cuts off the power while starting a fire. So there's yet another thing to worry about as Yuri comes to grips with possibly losing Kurumi to the infection. We've seen Yuri as the slightly older girl who's acted as a rock, so this is the first time she's truly shown emotion. It's quite interesting watching her slowly break as she decides whether or not to kill her friend before she turns into a zombie. Then we shift back to Miki, who's fought her way down to the school's basement. As she comes face to face with Megu-nee's zombie (who still retained her memories of the other girls and evidenced by her zombie writings), she assures her they're doing fine before giving her peace. But Miki is soon cornered by zombies when she finds the medicine. Then we cut back to Yuki, who's slowly breaking free of her delusion. After some emotional resolution (and Megu-nee guiding her to the broadcasting room), she finally accepts Megu-nee's death and says goodbye. It's too much.  What started out as a cute series became far more emotional than I would've guessed. Looking at the premise of the show should've given it away, but I never thought it'd hit that hard. Maybe it's because it's so sudden. It's not a revolutionary story or anything like that, but there's so much care put into the buildup, the payoff is fantastic. The final episode's sure going to be something. 
Annotated School-Live! photo
I've got a complicated relationship with zombambos. I've gotten tired with the genre, but I can't help but stay invested in how different characters are effected in different medias. Each media provides unusual takes, and ani...

Annotated School-Live! photo
Annotated School-Live!

Annotated Anime: School-Live! episodes 4-6

Zombeh -eh -eh -eh -oh -oh -eh -yaaaa
Sep 14
// Nick Valdez
Last time I talked about School-Live! (which was a bit ago, sorry), I noted how much I loved how its cutesy art clashed with its dark world. Despite how seemingly annoyingly cute it is, it grabbed my attention and never let g...
Animals photo

Feast your eyes on a man walking nine cats through Tokyo

On a stroller, of course
Oct 13
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be more of a dog fan than a cat one, but it's hard to ignore an adorable moment where a guy takes his Chinchilla and Himalayan Cats for a walk in the streets of Tokyo. Instead of walking them like a dog, the man places ...

puns puns puns photo
puns puns puns

These are the Japanese pun stickers you've always wanted

I love puns
Jul 09
// Kristina Pino
I'm delighted that I can share these delightful stickers with a wider, appreciative audience. MIS0HAPPY has this Store Envy shop loaded with stickers depicting my preferred form of humor: puns. Just look at the pictures becau...
The Eccentric Family photo
The Eccentric Family

The Eccentric Family plushies on the way

Don't let the bloody fool's blood fool you!
Oct 02
// Ben Huber
The Eccentric Family has been one of the highlights of the past season for me. It combined Japanese mythology with average life in a way that was really enjoyable -- and adorable. Tanuki, tengu, and more are part of the tale,...

French manga artist Lowra brings characters to real world

Cute little concept
Feb 28
// Josh Totman
Ever wanted the characters in your manga to jump off the pages and into the real world? I know I do every time I read hentai, but that's not the point. The point is French manga artist Lowra has done just that with her drawin...

Japan sending Akita puppy as gift to Russian president

Jul 24
// Bob Muir
Another day, another Morning Puppy post! Wait, that's not a running feature? Why the hell not? Japan's latest prime minister Yoshihiko Noda recently met with Vladimir Putin in Mexico. Eventually, Noda promised to deliver an ...

First Impressions: Saki Episode of Side A

Apr 16 // Josh Totman
In this rendition of the series, we are going back in time a bit to see where Nodoka's humble beginnings began. It's a very small flashback which only takes a part of the first episode. What we are really set up for is a parallel story to the first series. Basically, Nodoka's first mahjong club friends are on a path to meet up with the future champion in the national tournament. This is where the whole "Side A" part in the title comes from. Now, this is not the whole story. Watching the ending, you will see people from the first series show up, so this might not just be a catching up story but a far more in-depth story of how everyone came to be. I'm not really holding my breath either way. All this is going to be for me is my cute slice of life anime for the season. I want nothing more then a feel-good anime that will make you giggle and smile. The pastel colored world is nice and vibrant, blinding you with as many bright colors as you can imagine. But since this is world is only filled with females, it fits nicely around them. Speaking of which, I don't really recall any males in the second one either except for an announcer. It looks like the character designs haven't changed much from the original series, which is always a good thing in my opinion. We also get to see how much Nodoka has "grown up" in the few short years since she started playing. Don't look at me like that, you know what I mean. It's the only ridiculous thing about the series along with the over the top playing styles. So what if I have never wanted to be a stuff penguin more in my life then now. I said don't look at me like that... The over the top special techniques are still there to make a simple game of mahjong into an all out war. This is done so much in card battle games it's kind of ridiculous. I understand it makes the drama better for something that is normally boring, but it seems too much at times. Maybe I just long for more of the psychology of the game to come out in more of a heavy banter then graphical effects. Then again, I am watching kids play these games and you don't want to evoke mental destruction on them...or do you. So far I am liking what I am seeing here. I was a fan of the first one, so it was natural for me to pick the second series. Compared to the other new shows of the season that I am covering or just watching, this will be a nice change of pace. Now that I think about it, is this series moe or not? I don't think it really is because it doesn't seem cute enough for it to be. What do you guys think about it? Moe or no?

It was nice to see that the mahjong anime Saki would be getting a second season. The first season was cute, lovable, and didn't teach you much about mahjong. At least, I didn't learn anything like I was hoping for. That'...


More Hanasaku Iroha arriving in 2012

Dec 10
// Chris Walden
If you've been rolling around in the foetal position since the end of Hanasaku Iroha earlier this year, then you'll be pleased to here that it won't be too long until we see some more of her hectic hot spring adventures. On t...

Election held for stray cat idols

Oct 10
// Bob Muir
What does your town do when it has a lot of stray cats? If you lived in the town of Saga, it would make them celebrities instead of calling animal control. Two years ago, Saga decided to deal with its stray cat problem by cho...

First Impressions: C3

Oct 03 // Chris Walden
So, what is C³ all about then? Well, with all my knowledge on this show coming from the first episode, I'm not completely sure. The lead male Haruaki, who incidentally has the personality of a wet flannel, receives a mysterious cube in the post from his father. While later admitting that he often receives weird things from him, he completely disregards the cube, goes to bed, and acts surprised when a young and naked girl emmerges from it late at night to go and steal rice crackers.  I mean come on, it's Japan! This happens every day! Anyway, those are the last of my complaints... for this episode! The girl in question, named Fear, claims that she was sent to him because she has the power to curse people. Luckily for us, Haruaki is invulnerable to curses! Anyway, he agrees to take her in and things start to return to normal. Another girl, namely Konoha, arrives in the morning with some breakfast, only to see a scantily clad Fear. After a squabble and the obligatory boob jokes, Flannel and Konoha head to school while Fear stays home to watch TV. The house is subsequently destroyed.  Hmm, don't think I'm missing anything. Oh yeah, there was a spider!  Sorry, I'm being harsh again! The episode was in fact just introducing Fear's character, and judging by the synopses that you can read across the Internet, things really haven't kicked off yet. The end of the show revealed that there is indeed a semblance of a plot arriving, and while I may be taking a very sarcastic stance to this show at the moment, I'm genuinely interested to see where this heads.  The opening was certainly one of the more impressive features of this show thus far. You can go watch that over here, but do try to watch it in 720p or above. See, there are two main reasons why I love this opening already. The first is that the animation is so fluid, it genuinely looks impressive. With a dance, it was obviously going to need it, but it exists, it works well and it looks amazing! The other is of course the music itself. Now, this kind of music has been done before, that much is obvious, but it's such a sweet track that matches the animation so well. It's an upbeat opening that I hope will compliment what I expect will be a dark show in the latter episodes.  Speaking of the art though, it most certainly is up to scratch. No terribly drawn objects in the background as yet, and everything looks lush and striking. Take for example Fear's hair. At first glance you may not notice it, but she actually has a pearlescent sheen to it that is present for the entire of the episode, not just something that the opening plays on. It frankly looks great, as it seems to have simply hit the right level of subtlety.  So finally, a conclusion of sorts. Would I recommend it yet? Well, it certainly isn't bad, but it hasn't quite impressed me yet. I'll be sticking with it for sure, as I'm genuinely hopeful that the plot will rear its ugly head in the next episode or so and sort this show out. It's a pretty competent comedy though, all things considered, so if you're looking for a giggle then it's probably worth 20 minutes of your time.  [C³ is apparently due to start streaming on ANN, so look out for it!]

I'm not normally interested in picking up ecchi shows. Not that I have anything against them, but it's hard for me to find a good one. The only show that springs to mind even now is Chobits, which I do adore, but you may even...


Latest Madoka tie-in features... guide dogs?

Sep 24
// Chris Walden
Those Madoka girls sure have been getting around haven't they! Their latest endeavour sees the ever popular snack-fiend Kyouko Sakura appearing on a poster for 'The National Federation of All Japan Guide Dog Training Institut...

Sign away your soul with a talking Kyubey pen

Sep 20
// Hiroko Yamamura
I love Kyubey. So empty, so evil, so collectable! The latest little Puella Magi Madoka Magica piece of merchandise I threw my money away on, is this cute talking pen they have over at AmiAmi. Looks perfect for signi...

Plush Kyubey spreads love, hugs and fear

Sep 15
// Chris Walden
"What happens if you cross a hugging pillow with pure evil?" It's a question that many of us have asked ourselves. Japanese character-goods designer Cube snagged a license for Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica, and their lates...

The Most Useless Machine strikes back!

May 15
// Hiroko Yamamura
Leave it up to the Japanese to give The Most Useless Machine a soul. Even Stephen Colbert couldn't resist playing with it. Add in some classic emotes and dramatic music, and this snazzy contraption is elevated to a whole...

First Impressions: Dog Days

Apr 18
// Pedro Cortes
I'm a pretty big fan of Zero no Tsukaima. It definitely isn't high art, tasteful, or, well, even very good. What I do like about it are the appealing character designs, silly ecchi humor, Rie Kugimiya, and a fairly interestin...

Submit to the adorable zombie apocalypse in I Love Zombie

Dec 13
// Bob Muir
Zombies are horrible creatures, the remnants of humanity reanimated into a mockery if their former lives. Their slow shambling, their mindless craving of human flesh, their ability to grow their numbers through infection...I ...

Cute video of the day: many small boxes and Maru

Nov 13
// Ben Huber
There's something delightful about Maru. He's just so innocent, and he loves boxes so much.In a turn of events that I wouldn't call surprising at all, Maru's owner presents the cat with a small box. You can guess what happens...

Japanese dog plays marriage counselor, stops fights

Nov 12
// Crystal White
Sometimes I like to bring you guys just a little bit of pure cuteness. Japan's coverage of animal-based news never ceases to both surprise and entertain me with its ridiculousness.  Recently, a television program covered...

Why the dancing-on-YouTube phenomenon isn't stupid

Nov 11
// Lauren Rae Orsini
Sometimes Colette likes to give us tough assignments here at Japanator.This time, she found another one of those girls dancing on YouTube and challenged us to write an expose about why this phenomenon isn't stupid.Let's see what I can come up (and watch the vid) with below the jump.

Who wants a pet rodent the size of a dog?

Nov 03
// Lauren Rae Orsini
OK, it's actually a capybara, but those things are basically enormous rats. And Japanese child actress Mana Ashida wants one as a pet. In this video, "Shimura Zoo" lets her see what it would be like. I know this vid...

This bathtub dog is the cutest thing you will see today

Oct 24
// Bob Muir
Okay, this one Japanese dog owner puts their dog in their tub for a hot bath. You may think this would lead to lots of splashing around and panicking, but you would be totally wrong, because this dog is too cute for that. He ...

Hilarious zombie prank scars children for life

Oct 15
// Bob Muir
Little kids are so gullible. They'll totally buy into a stork bringing newborn babies or the existence of Santa Claus. So if you, say, stage a situation where tons of people are running away from a single zombie that's headed...

Too small box and Maru

Oct 14
// Brad Rice
Silly cat, boxes are for kittens!

First Impressions: The World God Only Knows

Oct 07
// Pedro Cortes
Katsuragi Keima likes flat girls. No, not of the delicious flat variety. I'm talking about straight 2D, like on the screen of a PSP. The man likes him some galge and to those on the net he's known as the "God of Conquest...

Sailor Moon bento, the best lunch ever

Sep 28
// Crystal White
Most people only wish their lunch could be ranked in levels of awesome, and this Sailor Moon bento box totally qualifies! Of course, your average bento box isn't quite this elaborate, which is why this design is act...

This may be one of the cutest dog videos in existence

Sep 23
// Crystal White
It's no secret here at Japanator that we absolutely adore cute animals. And no, I'm not talking furries. I mean real, adorable, innocent animals. So on occasion, we like to bring you a video that does absolutely nothing for y...

Chimp plays baseball, actually interests me in the game

Jul 21
// Bob Muir
Monkeys are awesome. End of discussion. Now that we've established that inarguable fact, let's see what awesome things monkeys are doing now. With their awesomeness. Because they're awesome.This week: baseball, the American p...

Moe encyclopedia teaches nothing but cuteness.

May 21
// Crystal White
Moe, you say? Encyclopedia, you say? For years, we have faced the conundrum of why we can't have both an encyclopedia and moe, all in one conveniently adorable package. Or at least this has been a problem for me, if not the r...

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