Fragglepuss Anime Review 251: Lychee Light Club / Litchi DE Hikari Club

Lychee Light Club / Litchi DE Hikari Club

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Psychological, Short-Form

First Aired: Fall 2012, 8 short-form episodes

Summary: The story follows the nine members of the Light Club and their robot, Lychee. The town of Kieko-cho is an old factory town, stained with the remains of exhaust and oil. The Light Club rules Keiko-cho and is not friendly towards newcomers. Despite living in a post-apocalyptic world filled with the remains of what used to be a bustling technological landscape, the Light Club is always up to some scheme. One day they might be catching an intruder while another day they are starting an idol band to increase their worldwide influence.

Lychee Light Club is a quick and easy watch that can be viewed from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. The episodes are brief with a single issue at their core. It’s fun to watch and see what the club is up to each week. The show is basic from the animation to the soundtrack, but its focus is on the characters and the humorous situations they get themselves into, not the elaborate animation style.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick series that can be seen in its entirety in a single sitting.

You might not like it if: You are scared of anything resembling Frankenstein’s monster. Lychee is a robot built by Zera and the club. It has a limited range of emotion and understanding, like Frankenstein’s monster. It is often misunderstood, like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s ugly and has a face only a mother could love, like Frankenstein’s monster.

Similar Series: Ao Oni: The Animation, Aggretsuko, Death Parade, Deadman Wonderland, Kaiju Girls, Pikotaro’s Lullaby

Note to the Viewer: The history of Lychee Light Club runs deep. The anime is based on the manga of the same name. The manga is loosely based on a 1985 play of the same name. The visual style of the series inspired the formation of a rock band. Three stage plays have been performed based on the series and a live-action film has been released.

Litchi Hikari Club Musical – Opening Dance Sequence

 

ライチ光クラ

(Here’s the band that was inspired by the series)

Fragglepuss.com

Advertisements
Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 250: My Neighbors the Yamadas / Tonari no Yamada-kun

My Neighbors the Yamadas / Tonari no Yamada-kun

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Comic Strip, Watercolor, Studio Ghibli

First Released: July 1999, 104-minute film

Summary: Meet the Yamada family:

  • Takashi, the loving father with a close relationship to his wife
  • Matsuko, the loving mother that loves her family despite their flaws
  • Shige, the wise grandmother full of proverbs and advice
  • Noboru, the 13-year-old son who wishes he had a cooler family
  • Nonoko, the loud-mouthed 5-year-old daughter
  • Pochi, the family dog

The Yamadas go through day-to-day life with relatable situations that affect all of us. One day they are arguing over who gets control of the TV remote and another day they are frustrated with daily tasks. Despite the arguments among the family, they love each other, and it shows. They all have their flaws, but they overlook the flaws when it matters most.

My Neighbors the Yamadas is directed by Isao Takahata, who you may know from such films as: Grave of the Fireflies, Pom Poko, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. If you have seen any of Takahata’s other works, you know he often utilizes a unique animation style. That’s also the case in the Yamadas. The film is presented in a stylized comic strip aesthetic with simple animation and a lack of backgrounds. The English dub follows suit with other Ghiblis in how a stellar voice cast was brought on. The cast includes: James Belushi, Molly Shannon, Daryl Sabara, Liliana Mumy, Tress MacNeille, and David Ogden Stiers.

You might enjoy this if: You want a Ghibli film that’s like nothing else you have ever seen.

You might not like it if: The change in animation is too much for you. The film is simple and fun, but it’s not for everyone.

Similar Shows: Summer Wars, Azumanga Daioh, Nichijou, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Lucky Star

Note to the Viewer: Takahata wanted the film to use watercolor pictures rather than traditional cel pictures. To achieve that, digital technology was used, making My Neighbors the Yamadas the first Studio Ghibli film to have animation drawings painted entirely on computers.

My Neighbors the Yamadas Official Trailer

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 249: Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Whisper of the Heart / Mimi wo Sumaseba

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Drama, Romance, Studio Ghibli, Country Roads

First Released: July 1995, 111-minute film

Summary: Shizuku is a 14-year-old on summer vacation who spends most of her time at the local library. She begins to notice how most the books she checks out have recently been checked out by someone named Seiji Amasawa. Shizuku follows a mystery cat off the train one day and ends up at an antique shop ran by Nishi, Seiji’s grandfather. On top of all this library mystery, Shizuku is writing a song about her city based on the tune of “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Directed by Yoshifumi Kondou, Whisper of the Heart is the first Studio Ghibli film not directed by Hayao Miyazaki of Isao Takahata, although Miyazaki was a producer and storyboard artist for the film. Kondou is successful in telling the story of a young girl that is unsure of herself and her future. It utilizes the slice of life genre in a captivating way where the storyline progresses at a perfect pace without feeling rushed. Sometimes slice of life shows drag on and get boring, but Whisper moves along well. It’s a refreshing change how the stakes are not high in this film. Most of the Ghibli films have crazy-high stakes that involve the world ending or being changed forever. I like those films as well, but it provides a relaxing change of pace with Whisper and how the story is simpler. It’s just about a girl trying to find her place in the world.

The art is amazing, but that should not come as a surprise for a Ghibli. The backgrounds are well done and full of detail. You can tell when the wind is blowing and which direction the sun is facing. The soundtrack is my favorite part of the film, especially with it being a central plot point. Shizuku is writing lyrics throughout the film and it’s fun to watch the lyrics and sound develop. I’m not one to judge on the subs vs dubs debate, but it’s fun to listen to all the singing in Japanese to hear how beautiful it sounds.

You might enjoy this if: You have watched the big-name Ghibli films like Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke, and are looking for another show to fill your Ghibli need.

You might not like it if: You hate music in all its forms. This movie has it all: singing, violins, stand-up bass guitar, tambourine, etc.

Similar Films: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Garden of Words, From Up on Poppy Hill, The Cat Returns, Flavors of Youth, 5 Centimeters per Second, Fireworks

Note to the Viewer: Whisper of the Heart was the inspiration for the 2002 Studio Ghibli film, The Cat Returns, which focuses on The Baron and his life.

Whisper of the Heart Official Trailer

 

AMV –Hold On by Virginia Chan

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 248: Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) / Gake no Ue no Ponyo

Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) / Gake no Ue no Ponyo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Kids, Studio Ghibli

First Released: July 2008, 101-minute film

Summary: Sousuke lives with his mother, Risa, on a cliff by the sea. During the day his mother works at the assisted living center. The only interaction he has with his father is when he comes close to shore in his ship and flashes messages across the water. Sousuke and Risa get along well enough, but something is missing for both of them. Risa wants her husband to get off his ship once in a while and spend time with the family. Sousuke wants a friend. Everything changes one night when a storm comes in and Sousuke comes across Ponyo, a delightful little goldfish. Fantasy and reality clash as Ponyo begins to exhibit human-like traits and have a desire to become more like Sousuke.

Ponyo is directed by none other than Hayao Miyazaki himself. The story is based on The Little Mermaid, but it’s nothing like the Disney version. It has an anime twist that makes it significantly more enjoyable if you ask me. The artwork is classic Ghibli with incredible attention to detail, from the characters to the bubbles in the water. The backgrounds are gorgeous and lifelike. The underwater scenes are magical and animated beautifully. The soundtrack is composed by Joe Hisaishi and it lives up to the expectation of adding to the film. The combination of storytelling, animation, and music provide an amazing Ghibli film that is geared towards children but can be enjoyed by all.

You might enjoy this if: You are looking for a light-hearted entry into the anime universe for you and the family, or just yourself. Ponyo does a terrific job making a kid’s film that is not just cheap laughs for kids. It tells a deep story while being able to keep the children interested.

You might not like it if: You are afraid of the ocean.

Similar Shows: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, The Secret World of Arrietty

Note to the Viewer: Miyazaki went back to his roots with Ponyo. Some of the previous Ghibli films had used computer animation, but Miyazaki insisted that Ponyo be entirely hand-drawn. The end result was 170,000 hand-drawn separate images to complete the film, a record high for a Miyazaki film.

Ponyo Official Trailer

 

AMV – Counting Stars by Ellipselris

(Warning, the AMV contains spoilers. I figure if you haven’t seen the show, you don’t know what’s getting spoiled anyways, right?)

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 247: My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo

My Sweet Tyrant / Akkun to Kanojo

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life, Short-Form

First Aired: Spring 2018, 25 short-form episodes

Summary: Nontan is head-over-heels for Akkun. The two high school students are technically dating but their relationship is far from normal. While Nontan expresses an interest in Akkun and is always attempting to do cute things for him, Akkun acts like he doesn’t even like her when they are together. When Akkun is alone or with his close friends, his true feelings come out. He is deeply in love with Nontan and everything she does. He admires her actions and can’t get enough of the delightful things she says.

My Sweet Tyrant begins with a relationship that appears problematic on the surface but ends up being deeper than that. It is always clear that Nontan cares for Akkun. On the surface it seems like Akkun is a verbally abuse boyfriend that doesn’t even like Nontan. As the episodes progress we see that Akkun is truly in love with Nontan and he just has a difficult time expressing his true feelings when he is with her. We get to know a few other couple throughout the series, which is also enjoyable to watch. The episodes run short at only three minutes a piece, but you really get to know everyone by the time the series is over.

You might enjoy this if: You want a quick and easy romcom without a huge time investment.

You might not like it if: You want more than simple back-and-forth interactions that make up entire episodes.

Similar Series: Engaged to the Unidentified, Garden of Words, Glasslip, High Score Girl, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Lovely Complex, The Master of Killing Time, My Love Story, One Week Friends

Note to the Viewer: The My Sweet Tyrant manga was launched in 2013 and has eight tankobon volumes released to date.

My Sweet Tyrant Clip

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Kabuki

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

 

Kabuki at Kabuki-za

Kabuki is classical Japanese theatre known for its stylization of drama and elaborate makeup worn by the performers. It is the most popular of the traditional Japanese drama. Some other forms include Rakugo and Bunraku. The stage design is essential to kabuki, from the hanamichi extending from the main stage to the mawari-butai (revolving stage). Three main categories of performances exist: historical, domestic, and dance pieces (jidaimono, sewamono, and shosagoto).

They have made Kabuki foreigner-friendly using audio guides in multiple languages.  The guide provides essential translation of dialogue and lyrics, as well as explanations relating to the stories that may be difficult for non-Japanese visitors to understand. Another foreigner-friendly option is to attend a single act rather than a full play.

Kabuki-za is the main theatre for kabuki. It was originally built in 1889, but was rebuilt in 1911, 1924, 1950, and 2013. Once it was destroyed due to fire, once due to earthquake, once to bombing during World War II, and once as a complete rebuild due to earthquake concerns. Kabuki-za runs plays year-round. If you are going to catch a single act of the play, you have to show up morning of to buy tickets. You can only buy one ticket per person. Show up early to ensure you can get a seat.

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in japan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Anime Review 246: Ojisan and Marshmallow

Ojisan and Marshmallow

Review by: John Fragglepuss Evans

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance, Marshmallows

First Aired: Winter 2016, 13 short-form episodes

Summary: Hige is a middle-age office worker with an unhealthy obsession for marshmallows. He tries to hide his passion, but the truth always comes to light. Wakabayashi works with Hige and has a huge crush on him. She attempts to get close to Hige by always having a bag of Tabekko marshmallows available when he’s around. The clueless Hige has no idea that Wakabayashi is flirting with him.

Ojisan and Marshmallow is a simple and adorable show about co-worker romance. The episodes are less than four minutes each and tell the day-to-day story of Hige and Wakabayashi’s friendship. There is not a lot of character development, and you don’t get to know anyone besides the main two, but those two characters are enough to carry the short series that has a total run time of less than an hour.

You might enjoy this if: You are an office worker that has seen this type of romance play out before. Sure, it probably did not revolve around marshmallows, but if you have worked in an office long enough you have seen one coworker attempt to charm an oblivious one.

You might not like it if: You want an entrée-type series rather than a dessert.

Similar Series: Aggressive Retsuko, High Score Girl, I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying, Lovely Complex, My Love Story, Wakako-zake

Note to the Viewer: Make sure to watch until the very end of each episode, where you will learn quick marshmallow recipes for your enjoyment! Also, make sure to watch episode 13. It is completely different than the rest of the episodes and totally bizarre…

Ojisan and Marshmallow clip

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Sanja Matsuri at Asakusa Shrine

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

 

Sanja Matsuri

Sanja Matsuri “Three Shrine Festival” is one of the three great Shinto Festivals in Tokyo. It is held at Asakusa Shrine in honor of Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari, and Hajino Nakatomo, the three men who established and founded the Senso-ji Buddhist temple. Throughout the weekend portable shrines (mikoshi) are paraded to the main shrine to be blessed for the following year. Each mikoshi is carried by locals to their shrine. Every group adds their own flair to marching the mikoshi, from chants to taiko drums. The festival atmosphere is loud, joyous, and energetic. Traditional Japanese attire surrounds you, from kimonos to yukata.

The roads leading up to the temple are full of vendors selling traditional Japanese goods. The temple grounds are also full of vendors selling food and other goods. Some of the vendors have children’s activities set up. I’ll say this, it is so crowded. An estimated 2 million people visit each year. If you don’t like big crowds, don’t go to this festival.

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime, japan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Yebisu Beer Museum

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Yebisu Beer Museum

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

 

Yebisu Beer Museum

I had never heard of Yebisu beer before visiting Japan. I am so glad I have heard of it now! The Beer Museum is located in Yebisu Garden Place, a beautiful and pleasant area to visit. Within the area are restaurants, shopping, a department store, a hotel, and a Michelin 3-star restaurant. The Garden Place is built on the former Yebisu brewery. The beer company gave Ebisu its town name in the 1800s.

The Yebisu Beer Museum is the most immaculate building I have ever seen associated with beer. Giant beer cans adorn the entrance as well as a statue of its founder. You could have your wedding in the grand entrance of the museum, which is astounding. A 40-minute tour with a Yebisu Expert is an option that includes samples. A self-guided tour of the brewery’s history is another option. The tasting salon is an experience of its own. You buy Yebisu coins which are then exchanged for food or drink. The pour on these beers are the best I’ve ever seen. They perform a perfect pour for the first 2/3 of the glass then pull a separate tap that tops of the beer with a delicious head.

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime, japan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan and the Fragglepuss Introduction to Sumo

Fragglepuss Visits Japan: Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan and the Fragglepuss Introduction to Sumo

By: John Fragglepuss Evans

I made it back to Japan! I had no choice but to go back after I enjoyed myself so much last year. I visited some new places this time around and am presenting this year’s list of recommendations.

If you want to see last year’s recommendations as well as others from this year, you can find them here

 

Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament at Kokugikan

If you are going to schedule your visit to Japan around an event, I recommend the cherry blossoms, the festivals, and the sumo tournaments. A tournament is held every other month and lasts 15 days. The January, May, and September Tournaments are held at the Kokugikan in Tokyo. The March Tournament is held at EDION Arena in Osaka. The July Tournament is held at DOLPHINS ARENA in Nagoya. The November Tournament is held at Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Fukuoka. It will make for a more enjoyable experience if you learn the basic rules of sumo before attending. I started with the basics and went further down the rabbit hole of sumo as I was learning the rules and history. It’s such an intriguing sport with an incredibly rich history.

Introduction to Sumo

Sumo is a full contact wrestling sport where two wrestlers face off, attempting to force one another out of the ring or into touching the ground with anything besides the soles of their feet. The sport originates in Japan with the first professional tournament dating back to 1684. The matches are associated with Shinto ritual, from the shrine roof over the dohyo to the salt thrown for purification purposes.

Common sumo terminology includes:

  • Rikishi – Wrestler
  • Dohyo – Wrestling ring
  • Mawashi – The cloth rikishi wear during a match
  • Banzuke – Listing of sumo rankings published before each tournament
  • Honbasho – Grand sumo tournaments
  • Gyoji – Referee
  • Kimarite – Winning techniques

 

Professional sumo is split into six divisions:

  • Makuuchi
  • Juryo
  • Makushita
  • Sandanme
  • Jonidan
  • Jonokuchi

 

Within the top Makuuchi division are four titles:

  • Yokozuna
  • Ozeki
  • Komusubi
  • Sekiwake

Wrestlers start in the Jonokuchi division and work their way up to the top Makuuchi division through winning tournament records. Generally, a winning record at one of the six yearly tournaments will move the wrestler up a division while a losing record will move them down. The Makuuchi titles are more complicated and take longer than a single tournament to gain. Yokozuna is the top honor a sumo may earn, and few wrestlers receive the prestigious title.

A few additional factoids:

  • Everything has significance in sumo. The referees wear different outfits showing various rank. The outfit a sumo wears before their match denotes their division and title. Even the differences in topknot mean something.
  • While technically forbidden, it is common and expected for spectators to throw their seat cushion into the ring if a Yokozuna is defeated by a lower-ranked wrestler.

If you’re attending a tournament, know that each tournament day begins with the Jonokuchi rank and works up the divisions as the day passes. It’s an option to show up the morning of the tournament and buy a single ticket, but make sure you show up at least an hour before the box office opens and know that you can only buy one ticket per person in line. These tickets are the cheap seats, but they are significantly less expensive than other tickets. The seats are far back, but it’s not that bad. It’s just such a blast to be there taking in the whole experience. The start of the day will be practically empty in the arena since it’s lower division wrestlers, but the stadium will be packed by the end when the Makuuchi are wrestling. I spent the whole day at Kokugikan and could have spent another day there, but if you’re the type that only wants to watch a few matches, you can show up early to buy your ticket then go back in the early evening to catch the top bouts. I’ll say this, the Japanese stadium experience was beyond anything I’ve seen in the United States. The sumo merchandise was amazing, and the food choice was incredible. I bought mochi ice cream, bento boxes, Shochu hi-ball (alcoholic beverage), sake, beer, and several types of noodle dishes.

 

Fragglepuss.com

Posted in Anime, japan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments