Thursday, September 28, 2006

Anime Drinking Games

It's a pity back in the Bronze Age when I was in college I didn't know any anime fans, because anime really lends itself well to drinking games. Just imagine watching the original To Heart and drinking every time Akari says "Hiroyuki-chan"--by episode three or four you'd be seeing double, with the paramedics arriving to pump your stomach sometime in the middle of episode five. I'm sure now with this newfangled "inter-net" you can find much more exhaustive lists of rules for anime drinking games, but here are a few humble ideas from anime I've watched recently:

Zero no Tsukaima

Drink once when:
- you see Louise's pantsu
- Louise busts out the whip
- Louise has a "wardrobe malfunction" from snapped elastic
- the headmaster tries to do something ecchi
- Kirche's breasts jiggle
- Louise says 'urusei' and reminds you of Shana
- Seista gets naked
- anyone mentions 'Gandalfr'
- the runes on Saito's hand glow
- Guiche declares his undying love for anyone
- Tabitha nods her head silently in response to something
- anyone calls Louise 'zero'
- Louise calls Saito a dog
Finish your drink when:
- Saito kisses Louise

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu

Drink once when:
- Haruhi glares/scowls at Kyon
- Haruhi creates closed space
- anyone uses the phrase 'aliens, time travelers, and ESPers'
- Mikuru cries out in embarrassment or alarm
- Haruhi gropes or bites Mikuru-chan
- Haruhi has her hair in a ponytail
- Itsuki is sitting way too close to Kyon
- Yuki starts going all badass while techno music plays in the background
- you see a giant blue monster
- Haruhi throws her 1000th pitch in fielding practice
- Haruhi says she's bored
- Mikuru-chan changes costumes
Finish your drink when:
- 'homing mode' is enabled
- Kyon kisses Haruhi

Cardcaptor Sakura

Drink once when:
- Sakura blushes thinking about Yukito
- *Shaoran* blushes thinking about Yukito
- you see Tokyo Tower in a dream
- you see sakura petals
- Kero-chan stares at the moon and says "Yue"
- you finally find out who the hell Yue actually is
- Kero-chan demands some snack food/cake/candy
- Tomoyo makes a comment about how lovely/filmable/hot she thinks Sakura is
- Mizuki-sensei sneaks up on Shaoran
- Sakura says "Release!"
- Sakura yells "Umi!" more than once
- Shaoran blushes thinking about Sakura
- Meilin glomps onto Shaoran
- Meilin glares at Sakura
- Meilin screws up cooking something
- Clow Reed says 'water is a thing that flows'
- anyone says a variation of 'could this be a Clow Card's doing?'
- Sakura wears one of Tomoyo's costumes
- Tomoyo regrets not being able to film Sakura for some reason or another
- Tomoyo actually does something useful to help catch a card and isn't just filming
- Yamazaki tells a lie
- you see Penguin Park
- Touya appears somewhere random because he's his new part-time job
- Kero-chan calls Sharon or Meilin 'kid' or 'brat'
- anyone says 'I sense a Clow Card's presence'
Finish your drink when:
- Sakura actually realizes Shaoran likes her

Full Metal Panic Fumoffu

Drink once when:
- anything someone says is bleeped out
- Chidori hits Sousuke with her harisen
- Kyoko takes a picture with her camera
- you see anyone with a ponytail
- Kogure-sensei is taken to the hospital
- deeply disturbed female police officers are laughing maniacally
- Chidori hails a taxi by throwing Sousuke directly in its path
- Bonta-kun says 'fumo' (yes, there's one episode where I guarantee doing this will cause projectile vomiting)
- yakuza are getting their balls stomped on by a amusement park mascot
- Sousuke tells someone to enjoy the onsen in a normal manner
Finish your drink when:
- a rubber duck is blocking the view Tessa fans would kill for

Thursday, September 14, 2006

To Heart 2

The original To Heart is one of my favorite anime series, so I was eagerly looking forward to To Heart 2 when I first heard it was getting animated. Reading the excellent posts on Bluemist's blog describing each girl's scenario from the game, it was easy to see there was a lot of potential out there for a touching, dramatic anime series. Unfortunately, while you get the occasional glimpse of what might have been, overall the To Heart 2 anime was a disappointment to me, coming across as average and uninspired when it had the potential to be much more than that.

To Heart 2 follows a fairly conventional storyline--it takes your average high school guy, Takaaki, who is living alone because his parents work overseas (have you seen this before?), and you follow his adventures as he meets a bunch of different girls in his school. This may sound like a boring formula, but executed well it can really work--the original To Heart, for example, had good chemistry between the characters, a strong male lead, and an interesting story for each of the girls. No one saved the world from an alien menace, there were no giant robots, no magical girls--the original To Heart, Multi aside, was the kind of story that could happen anywhere but it still managed to be compelling.

To me, To Heart 2 just didn't hit any of the fundamentals of the genre well--to start with, Takaaki was a weak male lead, and failed to have any chemistry with the girls at all. There's no Junichi-Nemu banter, no Hiroyuki subtly showing he cares about Akari, no real chemistry of any kind to convince the viewer, OK, it's plausible that all these bishoujo like Takaaki. He just comes across as completely generic, a nice guy perhaps, but nice to the point of being a complete pushover who lacks free will. Scenes where Yuuma is challenging Takaaki to duels are supposed to show her tsundere side but instead are so one-sided they come across as ridiculous--Hiroyuki would've said something droll but Takaaki usually just stands there and looks baffled, or less charitably, retarded. It seems silly to critize a anime about bishojou for not liking the male lead, but with a better Takaaki I think To Heart 2 could have had better chemistry between the characters and would've been a better anime.

The stories for each of the girls is another area where To Heart 2 suffered compared to the game--you don't see Manaka's sister, Yuuma's struggles with her future, or several other key points of the plot. It's like they sucked all the dramatic parts out of the game and tried to make the girls more one-dimensional. Some of this I can just chalk up to the series length, but the original Kanon did a much better job of this in 13 episodes than To Heart 2 did (although I'm hoping Kyoani's Kanon, with more episodes to work with, will be better still).

The animation--well, it wasn't first season of Negima bad, but it was a long way from Haruhi or Air quality.

Not to just keep kicking To Heart 2 in the balls while it's down, there are some things about the anime that I liked. While the girls' characters didn't get a whole lot of development, there were glimpses where it was easy to see why they have their fans--Ruri excepted, it's hard not to like them. At times To Heart 2 did remind me of the laid-back pacing of the original, and I kept watching to the last episode so despite its faults it was still compelling enough to keep me hooked anyway. The end of To Heart 2 didn't really 'end' anything, but it was a touching moment and it's not like the original To Heart ended with Hiroyuki and Akari flying off to Hawaii for their honeymoon, so I can't fault it too much for that.

Overall while it had a lot of room for improvement, To Heart 2 was worth watching once and I'm glad Aquastar-Anime and Avalon saw this through to the end so that we could watch it subbed. Part of me hopes Kyoani will remake it someday, and with Kanon getting the remake treatment, you never know...