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Posts Tagged ‘coming of age’

Taishou Yakyuu Musume (Taisho Baseball Girls) official site (in Japanese) has all the ingredients that make a great show: pastlove (it is set in the 1920s), girls striving for their best in a suffragette sort of way, not a feminist sort of way (think Little Women), and it’s a coming-of-age thing. The plot? In an age of modernization, a guy tells his fiance` that she has no business doing anything but staying at home and raising children. To show him what she’s really made of, she vows to best him in baseball. She has two problems, though. One, she knows nothing about the game. Two, she needs eight other players.

The usual short guide follows, with outstanding episodes starred.

* Ep 1 — In a word, charming. If the series sticks with this humorous and tender approach throughout it will be something fantastic. Here’s hoping.

Ep 2 — It’s still cool, but it loses some of the historical sheen here. Some funny parts this time. The ending theme song rocks. Intro a lot of new characters.

* Ep 3 — A good one. They fill in the positions and have their first practice game against the boy’s middle school. The outcome? It’s not what you might expect, if you’re used to Western animated series. It’s emotionally consistent and funny.

* Ep 4 — Another good one. Character development with Akiko, and Koume grows a bit (though some of this borders on the unrealistic). More humorous bits than last time.

* Ep 5 — Good, but a bit lower-key than last time. Intro the ninth player.

* Ep 6 — Yes. There are some funny parts here and there are parts where the show could have gone in a pervy direction, but it didn’t. Restraint and class? Wow, that’s almost unheard of in a girls’ series, so mad kudos to the writers. Koume`’s life gets very complicated at the end. They find their first opponents and completely suck, but there’s a lot of learning and growing with many of the characters.

* Ep 7 — Another fantastic episode. Very funny and more character distinction. The only drawback is that it is a bit episodic, as there’s no mention of Koume’s husband, Saburo, which you’d think she’d be still freaking out over.

Ep 8 — Not as polished and taut as 7, but there is quite a bit of character development. Saburo shows up and he inadvertently declares his feelings towards her; she is oblivious. There’s some humor as the role that Koume` ends up doing in a movie is totally misunderstood, and the ending bit with Kogishina is charming. More about the magical ball, too. Lower-key.

* Ep 9 — A solid episode with a lot going on. I fear what will happen in the next episode as it looks like it will take the admiration that Koucho has for Tomoe in a hentai direction.

Ep 10 — It’s semi-cute overall, but there is one scene that implies Koucho is a lez. The end of the series though seems to imply that is some kind of immaturity. Is this some kind of cultural thing?

* Ep 11 — A return to form. This has a splash of humor, but it’s mostly serious and tense as the game starts.

* Ep 12 — A beautiful ending, shot-through with failure and success. It’s one of those rare stories where the good guys don’t totally destroy, but they prove themselves worthy opponents, which is no small feat. It’s human and it’s real. The ending bit is totally charming and captures what the series is all about.

There’s really only one fly in the ointment here, and that’s the major subject matter of episode 10. It’s one of those things that seems grafted-on for some sort of shock value, or perhaps to lampoon the silliness of it all. Then again, maybe it’s some cultural thing. I don’t know, but the series would have been excellent without it.

Anyhow, as it stands, this is a very good series with quite a few standout episodes. The profanities are rare and there’s no other objectionable content. Themes are mutual sacrifice, the value of hard work, commitment, and teamwork. There’s no real theology here but there’s nothing blasphemous either.

It’s worth watching and worth keeping, because I doubt it will ever be translated and dubbed. I can’t imagine how they’d do a sequel either, so this is probably it. Grab the fansubbed versions while you can, courtesy of Saizen and Tw-rev/Doremi. Get the first episode by Saizen for lots of cool historical notes!

For your downloading pleasure:
Saizen and Tw-rev/Doremi

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This is an interesting series; it’s based on the series of books by L.M Montgomery, and if you’ve read Anne of Green Gables, then you know what’s coming your way — tales of provincial Canada around the turn of the 19th century, filled with innocence and Romanticism. With that in mind, there’s little objectionable material here, except for some profanities that show up once in a blue moon.

The animation quality here isn’t the greatest, but it does reflect the spirit (I’m guessing) of the books. Emily could be drawn a little bit more attractively at times, but you get used to it. The voice acting leaves you with no complaints. The intro and outro songs are disposable, but the music used within each episode is high-quality, and the recurring musical themes are unforgettable. The funny thing is that this feels like an 1800’s shoujo series with the bright colors, and you do see some Japanese facial expressions and modern cultural slang that are totally out of place, but the heart remains. It’s not spiked with shoujo dazzle like say Skip Beat, but you can still tell that is aimed at pre-teen girls. However, it is a lot deeper than those series because of the source material.

The animation isn’t the most detailed, but the use of color and light is outstanding. The episodes get better upon repeated viewings, and work even better when you watch them one after another (unlike most anime` which is filled with excessively long recaps for the first minute of the show). Here, the recaps are short and sweet. The music and fx are orchestral and well-done, with only occasional excesses or off moments. Recommended for all fans of 1800’s/turn of the century literature.

1 Kicks things off with a bang, and we get to see a lot of Emily’s spirit. High emotions. Very good.
2 Emotional, but not as gripping as ep 1. It’s still quite good.
3 Very good, but just shy of 1 and 4. The conflicts with Elsie and the relationships among girls are timeless — some things never do change. The music when they meet Teddy is off.
4 Interesting throughout. Here a lot of the plot threads come together. One of the best so far.
5 Ok. Kinda ordinary, but there are some moments of foreshadowing that are interesting and make you wonder how they will play out.
6 Fantastic episode. Drama, innocence, and lots of emotions. This episode captures the heartbreakingly innocent spirit of L.M Montgomery’s works.
7 Ok. Not bad, but not a stand-out episode. A few moments that capture your attention, though.
8 Some great emotions, but gets a little maudlin towards the end. The use of color is fantastic, and I think we see some CGI stuff show up for the first time. I’m bummed how the episodes now seem to be stand-alone and don’t connect to each other anymore.
9 Eeh. Some profanities, no real character development except for the very end.
10 Ok, a little curious. Does Emily realize what she’s saying when she talks about building a future with Teddy? Does he?
11 Eeh.
12 Good, but an overly-sentimental scene towards the end between Emily and Jimmy. It’s another self-contained episode without any character development, really.
13 A little bit of character development, some emotions, but overall too schmaltzy. We do see where the romance is headed though, and I’m already starting to feel badly for the boys — one of them is sure to fail.
14 Ok, some character development.
15 A little bit better than 14. This one is a little bit spooky/eerie.
16 Finally, another excellent episode. I was beginning to despair. Character development, in unexpected ways, and full of emotions, and even some mystery. A positive portrayal of faith. One profanity (perhaps a mistranslation?).
17 Good. A stand-alone episode, but very emotional.
18 Excellent. High emotions, humor, and justice. One profanity.
19 Excellent.
20 Excellent. Heart-rending. Did you think that Aunt Elizabeth could cry?
21 Good. Warm. Kind of low key.
22 Excellent. One profanity, which I believe is a mistranslation (“nondayo” at least in what I’ve seen elsewhere is an emphatic “why” but does not imply cursing). Tons of emotions accentuated by orchestral music and character development. In short, this episode is the reason why the series is good.
23 Another excellent episode, building from bittersweet longing to a heartbreaking dramatic ending.
24 Crushing. Devastating. This might well make you cry.
25. Possibly the most emotional episode in the whole series. This will make you cry. The only thing that keeps it shy of perfection is a lack of divine themes.
26. The series ends, as it must, but it does end convincingly happily. It’s not fake or rushed. It’s not completely predictable either. You’re left with longing and a sense of timeless, piercing beauty. Also, make sure you watch all the way to the end for the closing scene, which is a nice touch.

This is one of the best anime` series I have ever seen, and it earns a spot in my hall of fame.

For your downloading pleasure:

Digital Panic

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