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25 December 2010 @ 08:08 pm
Introductions, Common Terminology, and Slice of Life  
If you want to skip the Introduction that includes bolded anime-related words and definitions and get straight to the point of what my reviews entail, feel free to read THIS entry instead.
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Anime
- Japanese cartoons often based off of Japanese comics (Manga), novels, and computer games.  Not so similar to American cartoons which are primarily targeted towards children.  Anime can be directed towards any age range, be broken into genres (such as comedy, drama, sci-fi, musical, etc.), and are often trademarked by character appearances of overly large eyes, multi-colored hair, minimal details of other facial features such as the nose, and distinct facial expressions (often chibi-sized or cutely drawn small body with a large head) for exaggerative purposes when a character shifts their emotions. 

More Elaborated Information About Anime Hair Colors
* Multi-colored hair refers to characters in an anime who have a vast array of unnatural hair colors, but it's usually never questioned as being unnatural.  After watching a webisode of Strong Bad from (homestarrunner.com), he describes how to become an anime character.  He says, "And for some reason, I got blue hair. You gotta have blue hair."  Blue hair is the most obvious anime trope.  Although, not every anime character has unnatural hair colors or eye colors.  An example of multi-colored hair and eye characters would be shown in "Sailor Moon" (just to mention one).   It was believed that this style originated as a way to assist in telling the characters apart from each other.  (In fact, did you know that the characters of "Sailormoon" are said to have originated with natural hair colors?  Their hair colors were only suppose to change during their transformations.)  Hair color can also be related to the type of personality that a character has as well.  Blondes are more often displayed as foolish or innocent.  Redheads can be displayed as temperamental or passionate.  Blue-haired is commonly used to indicate shy or nervous, smart, and friendly.  Although, these concepts are not always used all animes with mult-colored hair.
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Welcome to my Anime Review Online Journal!  If you've stumbled here by chance, like anime, and enjoy reading personal opinions, then there's a good chance you'll like it here.  I definitely do not claim to be an expert reviewer or an expert in anime.  In fact, I'm relatively new to anime in a way.  I started watching "Sailor Moon" probably ten years ago, but it was not until the past couple of years that I decided to try others.  While I'd like to buy all of the anime that I've seen, it's obviously costly.  Therefore, my anime viewing has been obtained mainly through these websites: animetip.com, crunchyroll.com, kumby.com and megavideo (if anyone is interested in where to watch free anime).  This entry is designed to be an Introduction to my Journal, however, I'm also going to work in some basic anime terminology while I'm blabbering.  If you're already familiar with all of the terms, feel free to skim over the bolded words and phrases.  However, the larger text displays the main sections.  So lets get started:

What genre of anime do I mainly like to watch and will be mostly reviewing?  Well...

Anime Genre - 'Slice of Life'  -

Life, observed and examined. A cast of characters go about their daily lives, making observations and being themselves.  School is perhaps the most common setting for these kinds of series, especially in animation. Coming of Age is often a major part of their stories. Slice of Life series don't usually have much of a plot, but is based on a more realistic day-to-day experience.  However, many Slice of Life stories use a lack of conflict to serve peaceful escapismrather than realism.  An example of this would be how in many slice of life school stories, parents are nearly non-existent.

This definition pretty much sums it up.  However, I usually always find a plot in the 'Slice of Life' episode that I'm watching even if it's not directly pointed out.  Maybe I look for deeper meanings that may or may not be there.  I also tend to watch a lot of yuri too.  The definition of "yuri" is explained further down. 

Although, I'm willing to give any anime a whirl if it promises a solid plot and entertaining characters, I definitely fling towards the 'Slice of Life' type.  After many reviews and discussions I've read, I've come to the conclusion that 'Slice of Life', or SOL, is a direct hit or miss in the popularity department among anime fans.  While SOL fans, including myself, would prefer to watch a more typical day-in-the-life, feel-good comedy about ordinary characters, events, and situations, non-fans may refer to several anime in this genre as fluffy, mindless, slow paced, and even boring, varying on which show is being discussed.   Well... to each, their own.  We all have our own personal tastes and even people who like the same genre won't agree to loving every anime in it. (I assume.)

Is all of SOL strictly realistic to everyday events and circumstances?  Definitely not.  Even though 'Slice of Life' is a broken down genre from anime, it's still vague enough that it can be divided into more types.  "Cromartie High School" is classified as a Slice of Life anime but has a robot as a main character.  I believe the defintion of "realistic day-to-day events" refers to the fact that this type of anime is MORE realistic to how life and school are displayed than in other genres such as... the 'Magical Girl' type or 'Fighting Series'.

Magical Girl Anime - Magical girls contain various powers that both assist and complicate their lives.  Very popular genre among female audiences.  Side-note: Surprisingly, this entire genre derived from the American series "Bewitched".  Who knew?  The most popular example of this genre is "Sailor Moon".

Fighting Series Anime - Pretty much what the name suggests.  A show with different fighting styles and learning new moves that are vital to the plot.  More popular among male audiences.  Some examples of this type of show is "Dragonball", "Naruto", "Bleach", and "Pokemon".

Although, anime genres can be broken into different catagories such as Magical, Slice-of-Life, Fighting, or etc., it doesn't mean that the genres can't overlap with each other.  It also doesn't mean that there is only ONE type of that particular genre.  For example, not every Magical Girl anime genre has the same elements or storyline.  Just to be helpful, here's a little chart!  (Charts are fun and educational, hehe.)

Genres
/\
Magical School Girl | Fighting Series | Slice of Life
/\                                          /\                                 /\
Sailor Moon                   Pokemon           More Realistic vs. Not-so Realistic 
                                                                           /\                                     /\
                                                                     Minami-Ke                    Cromartie High School

"Minami-ke" - Three sisters, every day life, no space ships, talking cats, no over the top slapstick in-your-face comedy.  (That I can recall)
"Cromartie" - Main character of a robot, other over-the-top antics.  (Although, I greatly enjoy it.)

That's just an example of a couple more ways that 'Slice of Life' can broken down.  There can be many more though.  Heck... you could divide SOL into directed towards children vs. older ages or shoujo vs. shounen.  (Shoujo - Anime targeted at young females, usually a romance story with a female protagonist.  Shounen - Anime targeted at young males, usually action adventure settings in a fantasy world with fighters and super powers (not always though) with a male protagonist.) I think SOL is often misunderstood and misintepreted because its definition overlaps with so many different things.  Although, I completely understand why it is often misunderstood because of the wide range.  That's also why 'Slice of Life' may be my favorite type of anime but doesn't necessarily mean I enjoy all of anime in it.  In fact, I dislike (argueably) the most well-known and popular anime title under SOL, named "Lucky Star".  *hides from a massive amount of "Lucky Star" fans*  Not that there's anything wrong with "Lucky Star", but as I mentioned, this genre and many animes in it are very "hit or miss" in personal opinions.  Which is good.  My grandmother always said, "Everyone's different.  That's why they make chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream, dear."  Also, here's one more chart demonstrating what I just described about how different genres can overlap or be broken down into more types. (If the chart doesn't look right, make sure that your window browser is maximized. So the text will spread out evenly.)

          
                                          ............ 'Slice of Life' Anime Genre.............
                                       /                                                                     \
                           .......Shoujo.......                                                        .....Shounen.....
                                  /           \                                                             /                          \
          Young (Characters) Older                One Main Wacky Character          Several Wacky Characters
                            /                     \                                                      /                                \
"Strawberry Marshmallow"     "Azumanga Daioh"                 "Fumoffu"                       "Cromartie"

Tada!  That chart was harder than I thought it was going to be.  Phew.  Sorry if the chart isn't that good by the way.  Even though the 'Shounen' genre is defined differently than the 'Slice of Life' genre, I technically view Shounen as anime directed towards males.  So if you wanted to place genres inside of genres, you could in my opinion.  The point of the chart is just to emphasize that although anime is broken into genres, not all shows fit cleanly into just one.  That can make things confusing... and hard to make charts out of.  Therefore, just calling anime by one genre (if it's the main one in the show) is fine too.  Also, if you have no idea what any of those anime in the chart or ones I used in examples are about, I doubt they helped very much.  Good news is that I plan to review pretty much all of the ones mentioned!

Anyway moving back to my journal... If there is anyone who finds my anime journal and wants to read my reviews, please keep in mind that these opinion reviews are simply for fun and should be taken as light-heartedly as the SOL being discussed.  It should also be kept in mind that I'm pretty amateurish in the world of anime, so I'm not going to know all of the common terminology or phrases that's often used.  I do know some, and I might post an entry entirely on some terms that's often used in anime and that I will use in my reviews such as otaku, yuri, moe, shoujo, etc.  For you... and for me in case I forget the word I'm searching for.  It does tend to happen. ;) 

Correct me if I'm wrong... Another thing that could happen is that I might spout off some information concerning genre types, terminology, or what have you that could very well be false.  (Not intentionally, of course.)  I do my best to research things before typing what I say.  But it's probably bound to happen eventually due to the fact that I'm not an expert in this field.  If there's something that I write here or in my reviews that isn't accurate, I always appreciate a comment or message letting me know why it's not and what the correction is.  Of course, disagreeing with my opinions on the reviews are fine too, but I won't change my entry because of that, obviously. :p  Even if I dislike a specific anime that I'm discussing, I always try to find some positive remarks to say about it, and I never just randomly attack a show because I didn't like it.  I understand that everyone's opinions are different, so I hope that my readers (if I have any, lol) will reciprocate that respect.
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As a side-note:

Besides SOL, I also mainly watch various types of genres such as yuri, yaoi, and shoujo.

Yuri - Anime genre that deals with homosexual relationships between females.  Yuri could also be referred to as Shoujo-ai.  However, Shoujo-ai refers to a lighter version of yuri content.  Such as... maybe there's an obvious attraction between two girls, but nothing every comes and is possibly never mentioned.  (Shoujo-ai... aka Yuri-light!)  This genre has been stated that it's more popular among male viewers.  Therefore, more Yuri is full of fan-service (sexy clothing, revealing close-ups, eye-candy looking girls) and ecchi (Genre of fan-service such as sexual hints but not anything as blatant as actual porn) than not.  Not ALL yuri has tons of ecchi and fan-service though, thankfully.  I really don't understand why yuri isn't considered as popular among girls as yaoi is in the anime world, but that's just what I've read numerous times.  Yuri should not be confused with hentai either.  Hentai is pornographic anime.  Yuri and Shoujo-ai anime are basically girl/girl love and often displayed with innocence, coming-of-age storylines, and actual plot-centered storylines. 

*Side-note: I think I'm one of those rare anime fans who is considered a Yuri fangirl.  I always see Yaoi fangirls... EVERYWHERE.  Personally, I think the majority of yuri and yaoi are both targeted towards the Shoujo audience because of the enhanced romance element.

Yaoi - Is pretty much the same thing only it deals with homosexual relationships between males.  Light Yaoi is Shounen-ai (similar to light Yuri's Shoujo-ai).  As Yuri is (apparently) more popular among male audiences, Yaoi is more popular in female audiences, oddly enough.  Because of this, in my opinion, the storylines are more character-driven, romantic, and get better plots than most Yuri.  Also, there is a lot more Yaoi in manga/anime than there is Yuri.  What can I say?  Women know more about romance. ;)  This should also not be mistaken as hentai.  It's simply boy/boy love.  I could provide some examples to all of these terms in a less confusing way.  Just pretending that the anime genre covers every movie/show ever made.  Here would be some examples of what the terms mean.

Shoujo-ai - "Thelma and Louise" (Not saying they were a couple, but there's speculation)
Yuri - "Bound", "If These Walls Could Talk 2", "But I'm a Cheerleader" (actual lesbian movies)
Shounen-ai - Niles on "Frasier" or Andrew from "Buffy" (characters that aren't gay but there's a hint of gay-like behavior involving them)
Yaoi - "Brokeback Mountain" (actual gay movie with gay characters)
Hentai - ... I suppose something like "Girls Gone Wild", if they were animated.

Those examples are just my opinions of the those genre types, but maybe it makes things more clear if there was any confusion.  Why do I like those genres? (Not including Hentai... the only anime genre in which I find utterly distasteful.  Apologies to any hentai-fans who may be reading this).  

 Anyway, I dunno why I like them.  I'm a sucker for pretty much any romance anime to be honest.  Love is love to me.  The Japanese seem more open to all of the different types of love and have many shows that display it.  I really don't have a problem with it as long as the anime has a good storyline, plot, or characters.  I'm not a big fan of fan-service, no pun intended.   But if it's played off the right way or comedic, I might be amused.  Anime fans, especially ones not familiar with the genres, sometimes wield negative attitudes towards any sort of homosexual relationship being displayed regardless of the plot or characters and tend to throw the word 'hentai' around unnecessarily.  If Yuri/Yaoi is not your cup-of-tea, I say... that's cool.  Just don't watch it.  Take your strawberry ice cream and get out of here. (I'm kidding, of course!)  But seriously, if you don't like that, you probably won't like some of my reviews that deal with those genres anyway.  I'm pretty open-minded, so not much bothers me anyway.  However, just because I'm open-minded, it doesn't mean that I like to watch anything.  As I mentioned earlier, I definitely have my personal preferences. 

For example, I also mentioned that I like Shoujo anime.  It will be a rare day and take plenty of persuading before I sit down and watch a heavy Mecha-centered show. 

Mecha Anime - a series with one or more pieces of technology as a significant main character such as large robots in a usually Sci-fi setting.  Mecha is also usually action-centered rather than character driven and focuses on the cool characters doing cool stuff with their cool toys/machines.  An example, would be "Speed Racer", about a cool racing car or the entire "Gundam" franchise.  Mecha is also usually targeted towards a Shounen audience.  No offense to mecha-lovers.  It's just not my flavor, baby.
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So how is this journal going to be presented?  Who knows what it's going to look like after I dink around on it after a while?  For now, I plan to write various entries such as "Anime Terminology".  Although, I tried to list a range of terms in this introduction entry already.  For the reviews, I'm thinking of making one entry per show.  I also plan to have a list of anime that I've seen, am currently watching, or plan to watch.  That might go into a seperate entry since the list will be constantly updated.  This journal will be updated periodically but not on any set schedule.  It's for fun, so it'll be updated whenever I get random free time.

Lastly, in the reviews that I've already written, I discuss four main catagories: My Initial Thoughts (aka first reaction), the Setting, the Plot and my opinions of the show, and my favorite characters of that anime.  I might add more sections later, but that's what I have so far.  Thanks for taking the time to read my introduction! :D

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Any lingering questions?   How about, "Why are you making this journal?"
I don't really have a reason.  Previously, I've written anime reviews to myself after watching different shows simply to keep track of what they were about, so I wouldn't forget which ones I've already seen.  These reviews aren't remarkably in depth like others I've read that include catagories like Artwork and Music.  This is simply an easy organizational method of keeping track of my personal views of the shows.  If anyone else cares to read them, that's great too.  That's one of the reasons why I included so much terminology in my Introduction.  I'd like beginning anime readers to understand what I'm talking about before I bombard my entries with Japanese words.  I know when I started to read people's anime reviews, I often fell into a blackhole of confusion when trying to decifer what some of the common anime terms meant.  Since I tend to ramble, to put it directly, I'm making this journal for me to reference if I need it.  I also think writing and reviewing is fun because I'm weird like that.  Haha, that's pretty much all there is to it.

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Shinobu: "Wow, you're so amazing, Kaede. And you know what? You've just earned yourself a whole bunch of stamps on the stamp card inside my heart."
Kaede Shiranui: "Great, but what's all this about a stamp card?"
("Ninja Nonsense")
 

 
 
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