The 1st Anniversary – Article: A Year of And The Geek Shall

After 12 month, 80 or so articles, 256 comments & over 20,000 views, it is time to summarise the 1st year of the existence of And The Geek Shall.

Can't hide my excitement.
Can’t hide my excitement.

I started this blog a year ago today as a distraction from a bunch of academic & real life stresses that I was going through at the time as well as a way to get out all of the pent up ideas & rants that were bubbling away inside of me.

I began it with the intention of crossing it over with my academic work but that idea quickly fell by the wayside as people didn’t really understand my academic work (just like I in all honesty) & it wasn’t as interesting as just doing what I want.

Unfortunately this meant that I have let many articles fall to the side half or barely written, as I get swamped with things easily at the moment. This leaves the blog filled with weird critiques, ill-spelt rants & one post that MRA cum-stained scumbags appear to detest. Yet it does not bother me that I’ve slipped from the original goals that I set out with. Like Pokémon: most things evolve for the better.

Even so, over the past year I’ve managed to garner at least 20,000 views -which isn’t bad for such an oversaturated market. Would like to have had more comments from readers that didn’t end up being deleted because they were either too stupid or offensive to allow to exist (much like those who made the comments). Still, over the course of the last 12 months, it’s not a bad effort. Especially considering that I have spent most of my time bitching about hypersexualisation & similar topics.

Moe service is the best service to some people.
Moe service is the best service to some people.

My personal Pokémon retrospective has been the one to garner the most dedicated hits -which isn’t surprising considering how popular Pokémon is. I’ll probably end up exploiting this a bit more, mainly through seeking others to write about their experiences with the franchise. Possibly targeting new adherents to the games or those who never had a chance to play before for whatever reason.

My favourite & constant starters.
My favourite & constant starters.

So, I’d like to thank my regular readers & those casuals who float through for all the hits & those few comments left publishable. Over the next year I’m looking to add more Live Action critiques as well as general articles. Also have to finish off those half finished, such as my Firefly & Doctor Who ones.

Again: thanks for viewing & let’s work together for a better year in 2015 in terms of positive geektastic experiences.

tamayay

Cute Girls & Caffeine – Anime Critique: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka

61255Title: Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka (Is The Order A Rabbit?)
Format: TV anime
Genre: comedy, slice of life
Series Creator: Koi
Series Director: Hiroyuki Hashimoto
Studio: White Fox
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 10, 2014 – June 26, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fan subs


Synopsis:

Cocoa Hoto moves into a new town to attend school. There, she begins living with Chino Kafuu at her family’s Rabbit House café, working as a waitress to pay for her accommodation.


Review:

One of my secret pleasures in anime is the genre nicknamed “cute girls/people doing cute things” 4koma adaptation. It pretty much started when I watched Azumanga Daioh a few years back & continues with Acchi Kocchi (my 1st review here), onto series like Yuyushiki & Seitokai Yakuindomo up to this current review. I think it’s the punchiness of the jokes when translated from the 4koma style, meaning that you pack a lot of humour into a short space. When combined with cuteness, it’s a winning formula in my book.

Unfortunately, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka doesn’t pack an awful lot of jokes in when compared to other series & most of them are based upon the Japanese reaction style (straight man paired with joker, can’t remember the name for it right now) but it still is uber cute.

Mainly because of the bunnies running around but also because of the girls.

& by cute girls I mean the kawaii fashion than any form of sexual or romantic attraction. There is a big difference, even though some of the characters are sexualised (such as underwear & swimwear scenes as well as emphasising Rize’s chest at certain points).

The construction of the female characters is the real draw for the series, because the defy the clichéd roles set forth for them.

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All of their names are puns on coffee, tea or other hot drinks that you find at a café. Cocoa is the daydreaming ditz who is obsessed with being Chino’s (whom she is staying with for an education exchange) big sister (onee-san) role model yet is surprisingly clever at her studies & an excellent baker. Rize is the daughter of a high ranking military man & military-otaku but still loves to be a girly-girl, combining war-lust with modelling & other things. Chiya, whose family runs a rival Japanese tea & sweets café, like Cocoa, seems like a bit of an airhead but is clever with language & telling terrifying stories. Her neighbour & best friend is Sharo, whom everyone assumes is a rich girl because she goes to the privileged private girls’ school but is in fact a scholarship student who is terrified of her poverty being found out by the others. Leaving Chino, who is the day to day head barista at the Rabbit House café (which doesn’t have any rabbits in it aside from Tippy), who has tsundere-like tendencies but is actually just very shy & not well adjusted socially outside of a café environment.

Each episode is pretty much broken into two parts, with slightly interconnecting stories or running gags but mostly they are isolated. The humour isn’t as rapid fire as Seitokai Yakuindomo or as painfully cute as Acchi Kocchi, it’s still a sweet & very funny series brought together by the kawaii interactions of the cast.

Really not much more that I can say about other then if you like your kawaii anime, you’ll love to add this to your list (but only after you’ve watched Acchi Kocchi. Go on! Do it now! NOW!).

gochuumon wa usagi desu ka episode 2 subtitle indonesia

Yuri To the Left of Me, Yuri To The Right -Anime Review: Sakura Trick

SakuratrickcoverTitle: Sakura Trick
Format: TV anime
Genre: Yuri, slice of life, comedy, 4koma adaptation
Series Creator: Tachi
Series Director: Ken’ichi Ishikura
Studio: Studio Deen
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: January 9, 2014 – March 27, 2014
Reviewed format: TV download with fan subs

 

 

 

 


Synopsis:

“Haruka Takayama and Yuu Sonoda were inseparable during middle school, but upon entering high school, they end up being seated on opposite sides of the classroom. Having to spend time with more friends, the two decide to make their relationship special by kissing each other in secret.”


Review:

This series has already become some people’s favourite anime of the last season but I still have to say: “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE! LOOK AT THE KOOOTE WITTLE LESBIANS! AREN’T THEY SO KOOOOOOOOOOOTE!!!

Yes, the two major themes of this 4koma adaptation is Yuri (lesbians) & cute little jokes.

To begin, without sardonicism, I utterly enjoyed this series.

I really do have a soft spot for 4koma adaptations (see my Acchi Kocchi review) & Sakura Trick does fit the fast paced formula very well.

But yes, it is a whole lesbo thing but that is not why I watched it.

I am general a fan of some Yuri stuff because, unlike Yaoi or Bara, Yuri tends to have more equality & romance between the parties involved & it is romance that lies at the heart of Sakura Trick. & unlike so many other romantic series, this one starts with the romance side, so we don’t get all that awkward, annoying tension that you find in so many other series.

The premise is very basic, two friends don’t want to see their friendship turn to nothing as they grow apart, so they decide to do something special to mark their importance to each other. That is: kiss. Though both Haruka & Yuu know that isn’t a very acceptable thing to be seen doing, so they keep it secret from those around them.
Sakura trick cuddle
This is where the comedy is generate, as the girls try to show their affection for each other or get flustered when they feel that the other has gone too far -such as Yuu kissing Huraka’s hands & knees because Haruka was lying face down on her desk. It is genuinely cute & is almost asexual in a way.

To explain: I asked a young lesbian friend of mine to watch it & she said that it was odd that all they did was kiss. She said that it really bothered her because if they were more realistic that’d feel more compelled to be doing other things to each other. It is off that no other bodily needs entered into it, even though they often deep kissed. It is all very innocent, without talk of masturbation or sexual acts. Just the purity of love shown through the simple act of kissing.
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This doesn’t bother me at all because it so avoids all the needless awkwardness & embarrassment that features so strongly in any other anime when they bring up kissing. Haruka & Yuu are very open with each other, even if they are pretty ignorant of their own deeper feelings. It feels natural in a way & not constrained by the usual annoyances of trope or social stigma.

In fact, the characters are so cute & well rendered -which is so often the strength of 4koma adaptations.

Haruka is often clingy & needy for affection, as well as easily jealous if Yuu pays attention to someone else -such as a classmate or her older sister Mitsuki but has some strong maternal traits & cares deeply for others (plus has the largest breasts in the cast, which is a recurring gag as the girls try to guess her size). While Yuu is often shown as being a little spoilt (often by the overly doting Haruka), lazy, ditzy & terrible in her studies but is often aggressive for affection from Haruka & easily jealous if she feels as though she’s been left behind. Their roles often switch in terms of whose dominant & whose demanding as they explore their feelings for each other & their friends -all of whom are rendered, in terms of character, beautifully & deeply.

To add to the drama is the fact that their school is closing & they will be the last year to graduate. This means that they don’t have the budget for big events, like the sports & cultural festivals, which puts stress upon Yuu’s sister Mitsuki, who is both a 3rd year & the president of the student council.
Sakura.Trick.full.1627843
Mitsuki also plays an important role in the narrative, as she tries to find out the truth behind her sister’s relationship with Haruka, as well as come to terms with her own conflicted feelings for Haruka. That is pretty much the basis for the humour of Mitsuki’s scenes, where she misreads situations & goes off into delusional imaginings of being with Haruka.

Basically: everyone in the cast is a little Yuri.

But the notion of innocent love & affection is what makes the series so enjoyable. There is no “will they/won’t they” of the romance, it’s all about them realising that they truly do love each other & reaching that point.

Of course, there is a bit of Fan Service, such as Haruka’s jiggling & the constantly kissing but it’s not the exploitative type. It’s played with affection & for laughs rather than feeling lingering & very creepy (see Nobunagun review).

In the end, this is a very light hearted, fluffy non-brain uber-kawaii comedy.

There is no real drama in it, just lots of very good & cute jokes. Each episode is split into two halves, each focussing on a different mini-story. The humour is fast paced & colourful, the characters are cleverly made & the romance is sweet without being sickly. The majority of the jokes are based around misunderstanding but they don’t bring out that painful feeling to watch like with other series (see my Strike The Blood review).

I give it two thumbs up -much like Haruka will give Yuu when their relationship gets more serious.

thumbs-up-for-sakura-trick-2

Happy New Year

Digital Fusion TIFF FileTo my readership, hope that you all have a wonderful New Year, where ever you may find yourself.

Never forget to enjoy your passion as well as the company of those around you whom you care for the most (& those you care for a little less as well).

Will be pack in the New Year with more reviews & articles plus some new academic pieces for you to discuss.

All the best to you all.

In the meantime, a little (Southern Hemisphere) Summer service.

acchi6-1

So Cute It Hurts – Anime Critique: Acchi Kocchi

Title: Acchi Kocchi (Atchi Kotchi, Here & There, All Over the Place, Place To Place)
Format: Anime
Genre: Slice of Life Comedy, 4koma, romantic comedy
Series Creator: Ishiki
Series Director: Oizaki Fumitoshi
Studio: AIC (licenced by Sentai Filmworks)
Original Airing dates: April 5 – June 28, 2012
Reviewed format: blu-ray with fansubs

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Synopsis:

    “The serious-minded Io & the pure-hearted Tsumiki feel they never want to be parted, but haven’t become a couple yet. More than friends but less than lovers, they develop an awkward quasi-romance.

Review:

To begin, I must plead utter bias because this is one of my all time favourite anime series ever made. I’ve seen it four times since it first screened & cannot sing its praises enough to people. It was a series that instantly appealed to me because of my love for other similar series, such as 2002’s Azumanga Daioh & the K-On! Franchise. Both of which also started from the 4koma manga format (4 panel strip style comics).

The series focuses on a group of five friends -Tsumiki, Io, Mayoi, Sakaki & Hime- & their strange daily lives but this isn’t a show present in a realistic way. The art style is very much exaggerated, to emphasis the cuteness (moe & kawaii) of the characters & situations, with Tsumiki being presented with cat-like features -sprouting ears & a tail- to show her hidden emotions or Hime’s suddenly nosebleeds. The comedy is based a lot upon quick puns & the interactions of the characters, focussing especially on Tsumiki & Io.

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    Tsumiki is classified as a tsundere style of character -outwardly cold to hide her loving feelings- & the object of her affections is the kindly but often dense Io, who treats her in a friendly manner even though she wants more from him. Her inability to communicate her desires combined with Io’s failings to read deeper into situations leads to teasing down by the manic genius Mayoi & the mischievous Sakaki, who often receive physical retribution from Tsumiki for their efforts. She often gets into awkward situations trying to get Io’s attention or accidentally playing out something that she imagines but her feelings are genuine, as she just tries to be close to him, even if it causes their friends to tease them in a friendly way.

The other source of humour comes from well timed & placed running gags -such as Hime suffering from nosebleeds whenever she sees the psuedo-romantic interactions of Tsumiki & Io or whenever she sees something cute (such as Tsumiki in a costume or Io’s playing with a cat). Other running gags come from Io accidentally charming the female cast, often resulting in wide spread nosebleeds & fainting, or acts of (comically done) superhuman violence, often performed on Mayoi. The humour is designed to be fast paced but seldom going over the audience’s head (issues with translation & subtitle speeds not withstanding).

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    Other than the animation/art style, what truly makes this anime sweet & well done is how excellently all the characters are rendered. You know who they are quickly without them falling into tropes & cliches. Tsumiki is a loli-like tsundere without being rendered in such forms as other, more stereotyped characters like Louise from The Familiar of Zero or Aria from Aria the Scarlet Ammo. She often has cat-like features sprout on her & is rendered in a chibi fashion but is superhumanly strong & fast.
Io initially appears as your typical studious type, with his neat appearance & glasses, but shows many hidden physical skills & other talents -such as being an excellent pastry & sweets chef, skilful gamer & (unknowingly) charming to people whom he meets.
His best friend, Sakaki, is laid back but still sharp, able to pinpoint when Io is at his most dense in regards to Tsumiki’s affections. Whilst Mayoi, who is always seen in her trademark labcoat, is depicted as a trouble making airhead but is, in fact, a mechanic genius, able to create elaborate devices in short periods of time. Leaving Hime as a super average girl, who has trouble with technology & cannot perform the same superhuman feats as her friends, but has a sweet, caring soul which can be easily distracted by anything cute, causing a jet of blood to burst from her nose.
They are surrounded by an equally well depicted supporting cast, which includes Sakaki’s older sister, Miiko, who has floppy dog-like ears drawn in her hair & runs the cakeshop Hachi Pochi, where Hime & Io work party time, & carries dog themes through it.

The series ran for twelve episodes with an OVA released with the blu-ray collection & each episode is divided into two parts, A & B, with a special omake, called Acchi Kindergarten, at the end of each episode that also doubles as the next episode trailer (which is scrolling script along the bottom of the screen). Each scene or segment has special animations based around circles & arrows linking each other, which also serves to enhance the jokes or the running gags. The series, as a whole, covers the course of a year, starting & ending in winter & covering events such as Valentine’s Day & White Day (featured twice in the series), summer holidays as well as Christmas & New Years celebrations, with each episode being self-contained in each half but still continuing with gags & references from episodes that came before.

When comparing the anime series with the original manga, it is one of the few series that becomes superior to its original printed form. In Ishiki’s original 4-koma manga, the illustrations of the characters are exceptionally well rendered, often looking odd & amateurish, where as the anime gives them better forms & far more details -especially in Tsumiki’s cat-like actions. The manga has far more developed jokes & running gags, from which the anime only tends to use from the 1st volume (there 5 volumes published & the series is still ongoing), so I find it surprising that there still has not been a 2nd series with the amount of unused material that they have available.

Another exceptional part of the series is the incidental music by Yokoyama Masaru. It’s subtle and minimalist, using electronic (almost 16 bit) keys & instruments such as clarinets & acoustic guitars yet has its high energy moments when the scene calls for it. They are the kind of tunes that you can easily find yourself humming & they don’t overpower any scenes. Both the Opening & Ending themes are sung by the main cast saiyu.

There are only a few negatives that I can give this series & they are almost all to do with the subtitling & translations. I originally watched the TV broadcasts with the subs done by the Commie group but their lack of honourifics & explanations is exceptionally grating to me. The blu-ray was subbed by a different group but they had issues in regards to panels covering the between scene animations as well as the on screen text. The lack of closure on character relationship was also a vexing issue but excusable because of the ongoing manga. It is also my fervent wish that they make a 2nd series or movie but that is unfortunately unlikely at this point in time -despite its apparent popularity within Japan.

In quick regards to issues of Soft Power, this series is a god example of its possible positive uses because it doesn’t render the series as ‘culturally odourless’ & does retain many tropes, habits & visuals that can be called very Japanese. It does go through many of the cliched forms with the holidays & traditions but calls many of them to question, such as White Day, where men return the favour of receiving a gift from a woman on Valentine’s Day. Over all it plays to trope & cultural expectations within the media but doesn’t let itself be dominated by them. It also, surprisingly, lacks many other typical elements of the genre, such as references to the supernatural (such as ghost stories, even though it talks about fortune telling) or pandering to fan service. The female characters are cute but not sexualised, playing more upon the original form of moe. Most of the sexualisation is actually played upon Io’s character, with the female characters performing the traditional male reaction of bleeding noses & overheating from their desires.

Again, this is a series that I cannot recommend enough. It is so sweet & cute that it cannot help but make me smile whilst watching it. The rapid fire gags & strong visual jokes literally brought tears to my eyes but the undercurrent of the bourgeoning sense of a mature romance between Tsumiki & Io is portrayed in such a fashion that you can’t help but feel for them both. Especially as the dense Io begins to understand his own feelings. Unfortunately due to the manga still continuing, that part of the story was never drawn to a proper conclusion but it is forgivable due to the sweetness of the characters & the series as a whole. Acchi Kocchi is guaranteed to leave a painfully sweet smile on face & have you giggling ages later as you randomly recall a joke or visual gag. This is a series that I cannot get enough off & constantly find myself looking to rewatch when I want to take a break from other viewing. It may be too saccharine for some but it is perfect for me & that, in the end, is what counts.