Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 11-12 and Final Thoughts

Episodes 11-12 (finale)

Summary
So we start out with Tatsuya and Karen sneaking past all the Moon's defenses and breaking in to one of the domes with the help of Mia, who opened a dock for them. You could say it's unrealistic one fighter could get past all the defenses of the Kingdom of Sphere, primed for war, but there was that German guy who landed a Cessna in Red Square during the Cold War, so I guess anything's possible. Someone in the Lunar Air Force is so getting fired over this though. Tatsuya and Karen make their way to the throne room, Feena and Mia escape as well with some help from everyone's favorite photographer, and the Big Showdown comes as Tatsuya and Feena try to convince the King to stand down the Moon's forces, while Jurgen wants to start a war to wipe out the Earth as soon as possible, using Karen's "defection" as a pretext.
It looks like with the help of a recording by Feena's mother that Good will triumph over Evil--Jurgen was about to take over by force and start an attack on the Earth, but Karen's girls-in-tight-uniforms-with-machine-gun squad conveniently breaks in, and Photographer Dude has been broadcasting everything that's going on so everyone knows Jurgen's an asshat. Cue the happy ending...except as Jurgen's being led away in handcuffs, he breaks free, shoots at Feena, and in his first real useful act since he got to the Moon, Tatsuya takes the bullet for her. He looks like he's going to die, angst ensues, but then aliens appear and shoot their Mikuru Beam into the palace to heal his injuries and save him. No, I'm serious. Aliens. Wreathlit? She doesn't do squat--I thought she'd be the deus ex machina, but nope. Instead with no warning this big-ass alien spaceship appears and decides to save Tatsuya. Turns out Tatsuya's father, Indiana Jones, got abducted by aliens, saw the whole thing go down on SpaceCNN, and had his new alien friends come to the rescue.
Anyway...a few years later Feena and Tatsuya get married in a big-ass stadium on the Moon, pinch each other's noses, and everyone's happy.

Thoughts
Wow...could have done without Tatsuya getting shot and then saved by aliens...that's one of the more WTF moments I've seen in the end of an anime series. Things were really moving pretty well up until that point too--sure, Tatsuya getting shot by Jurgen adds some drama, but aliens? If Wreathlit/Fiacca had used their powers to save him instead, I think it would have been much better. Although the animation quality was solid again, and I liked the wedding epilogue at the end. Tatsuya needs to get a new shtick though, the nose-pinching thing's getting a little old.

The Good
- The animation quality didn't suck monkey balls the last two episodes--clearly the 'A' team got the call here.
- I give them credit for doing a proper 'a few years later' epilogue with the wedding. Much better than the open-ended Futakoi original type "ending" that doesn't resolve anything.

The Bad
- Holy Plot Device, Batman. I mean, aliens? You've already got Wreathlit, why couldn't she have saved Tatsuya? And these aliens just happen to show up five seconds after he gets shot? When I could write a better ending (and my writing skills are pretty sucktastic) you know it's pretty bad.
- The King should abdicate right now in favor of Feena-hime, because he's worthless. He trusts Jurgen, the Moon's resident nutjob, over his own daughter? His late wife wanted peace with the Earth, so to honor her wishes I guess it's OK to mobilize the fleet for war? It's OK to let Jurgen fire warning shots at Karen's ship because he's just so trustworthy of course he won't have peepz shooting to kill?

The Verdict
Three stars.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed re-watching Yoakena much more than I thought I would, and probably more than I did watching it the first time--it's a good romantic story with a great cast of characters, especially Feena, who in my book belongs in the Saimoe Final Four, if not winning it outright. The romance between Tatsuya and Feena was done very well, with some good drama as a result of their coming from different worlds and social status. Unlike a lot of 'harem' anime, the focus is just on Tatsuya and Feena, and Tatsuya isn't your typical indecisive 'loser' male lead--he loves Feena and does everything he can to be with her, in the process showing that he's got some real guts. Feena is also an excellent female lead, not the meek, doormat stereotype we see all too often in anime, Feena kicks ass and has the bearing you'd expect from a real princess. The supporting cast is good too, it's hard not to like Natsuki, Mai, Sayaka, Jin, and the others...even Takano-sensei, after an annoying start, becomes more likeable as the series goes on. While Yoakena gets the most flak for its animation quality and the infamous cabbage, other than all of episode three and the second half of episode seven, the animation quality was perfectly watchable, even if it wasn't Kanon-level or anything. I think knowing there'd be some quality issues with the animation going into it, when they came up I wasn't banging my head into the wall like I was when it first aired.

Having said that, Yoakena has some serious flaws, most glaringly all of episode three and the second half of episode seven, where the animation quality was so horrifically bad it was hard to watch at all. And while this got fixed to some extent on the DVD release, the story itself in the second half of the series is kind of weak too, with Lyones not acting like a very good father or king, Jurgen almost a caricature of a typical Bad Guy, and Wreathlit/Fiacca strangely underutilized. And then there's Indiana Jones/Tatsuya's dad and the aliens, which made for one of the more WTF endings I've seen in a long time.

If you haven't seen Yoakena and are a fan of romance/bishoujo anime I'd recommend watching it, even with the flaws in the animation. For me, it's worth watching for Feena-hime alone. Just be prepared, if you're watching the fansubs, to cringe at that episode and a half when Team Cabbage is doing the artwork. If you're not a fan of the genre, this won't make you into one--Yoakena's not Kanon, the kind of series you see fanatic followings around. I think for me the biggest disappointment of Yoakena was the wasted potential--if it had a better animation studio doing the work, a better ending, less Feena as Rambo, more Tatsuya-Feena moments--maybe it could have been more memorable. Instead, it's still a fun series to watch, just not quite what it could have been...but who knows, maybe tomorrow Kyoani will announce they're doing a remake--right after I win the lottery...

UPDATE: Pete Zaitcev of Ani-Nouto, aside from having the distinction of being one of probably only two or three people on Earth who read this sorry blog, also managed to link to my first Cabbage Project post less than a tenth of a second after I posted it. His thoughts on Yoakena are here, and as usual are more coherent than mine. Reading his post drew my attention to the fact that in 14 Yoakena-related posts I inexplicably failed to mention the OP song, which I agree is really, really good. And the cabbage...at this point, for me it's more an avatar for everything wrong with the animation than just a mere simply-drawn vegetable. Simple character designs and simple vegetables won't drive me insane, but off-model maiming of facial expressions I just can't forgive...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 10

Lyones catching Feena's mom, before he turned into a wuss.

Summary
Feena gets an audience with the king, but he shoots her down, telling her it's too difficult, and that he doesn't want her to have to go through the same pain he did with Cephilia, Feena's mother. He tells her to think about things some more...then we get a flashback of a younger Lyones being encouraged by Tatsuya's father, Indiana Jones, to go after Feena despite their difference in social status, and Lyones starts to have second thoughts. But Jurgen shows up and tells him Karen's stolen a fighter and left for Earth--and Lyones once again shows his sorry-ass decision making skillz, in leaving things to Jurgen and being too willing to believe Karen's defected to the Earth's side. He orders Feena grounded in her room...back on Earth, Karen appears to pick up Tatsuya and take him to the Moon, saying when both Tatsuya and Feena are together, only then will they show their true potential and be able to convince the king.

Thoughts
Not a bad episode overall--it's easy to see where Feena is coming from going to the Moon alone, because she doesn't want Tatsuya to be hurt like he was fighting Fiacca--but from Tatsuya's side it feels like she's ignored what he's told her about relying on him too sometimes. Lyones and Cephilia's background was nice and all, but that makes Lyones trusting Jurgen seem even more suspect. Given he and Cephilia were much like Feena and Tatsuya, you'd think he'd be a little more understanding, instead of playing right into Jurgen's plans, which aren't exactly hard to see through...

The Good
- Story moving along at a good pace, good drama with both Feena and Tatsuya
- Karen. Karen just kicks ass in general.

The Bad
- Lyones being an idiot.

The Verdict
Four and a half stars.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 9

White Beret = +50 to moe

Summary
Tatsuya and Feena are all rabu-rabu, but back on the Moon things don't go well for Karen--"my father's most trusted subject" or not, Feena's father the King doesn't take the news Feena has fallen in love with an Earthling well, instead preferring to hand his daughter to Supreme Asshat Jurgen. Karen leaves but promises to try again--and promptly gets arrested on suspicion of treason, on Jurgen's orders. Back on Earth, Feena and Tatsuya go out on a date, but get attacked by Wreathlit, to transforms into a very Fate-looking Fiacca, who says she has to kill Tatsuya because otherwise the Earth and the Moon will get closer and fight again. In the end, Feena and Tatsuya convince her to give them more time, and Fiacca tells Feena that Karen has been arrested--Feena then resolves to go to the Moon and straighten things out.

Thoughts
The animation quality was uneven again, but again compared to episode three this is still perfectly watchable. I was about to complain that Feena never wears anything but her full-on princess uniform and her serafuku, but finally we see that she actually owns casual clothes, when she goes out on her date with Tatsuya. The Shirakawa Kotori-esque beret is an especially moe touch, I thought. Wreathlit finally takes action, although that scene felt a little drawn out--and Feena's father is looking like a major disappointment. How anyone with an IQ above room temperature could think Jurgen would make a good match for his daughter is beyond me--his lack of consideration for Feena's feelings and lack of trust in Karen are also pretty contemptible. It seems like Jurgen's the one who's really calling the shots, which can't be a good thing...

The Good
- Wreathlit finally does something.
- Beret + Lunar Princess = Instant Win. It worked for Kotori in Da Capo too.
- Mai's overactive imagination.

The Bad
- Sloppy animation at times.
- Feena's father is a lousy king.

The Verdict
Four stars.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 8

Feena prepares to kick Tatsuya's ass for leaving the toilet seat up.

Summary
Feena is moved by Tatsuya's confession, but can't reply right away, worried about the consequences--they go to Karen to get her to endorse their relationship, since Feena knows her father trusts Karen more than anyone else (or thinks he does anyway). Karen tells them their relationship could lead to serious issues between the Earth and the Moon, and says she will only evaluate their being together after a match between Feena and Tatsuya in kendo, a week from now. Tatsuya skips school and trains with Takano-sensei, who in addition to being an ecchi photographer turns out to be a kendo master. In the match against Feena, Tatsuya manages to hold his own for a little while, but Feena's skill level is too much and he loses. Karen says that's OK, she can see that they're both determined, and they'll need that determination to get past the obstacles ahead. At the end, Tatsuya and Feena go for a walk, and she tells him she likes him.

Thoughts
Overall, a good episode--I liked how Tatsuya didn't win the match, since Feena's been training her whole life and Tatsuya barely had any exposure to kendo, for him to be able to pull off a win after just training for a week would have been too unrealistic. The animation quality was just OK, though--it's like some of the earlier episodes where most scenes look fine, there's nothing cabbage-bad jumping out, but sometimes it's just a little off. Still, a solid episode as we start moving towards the climax.

The Good
- Good plot development, Tatsuya showing some guts and his relationship with Feena moving along well.

The Bad
- Occasional animation glitches.
- Takano-sensei's a kendo master? He's three feet tall! Maybe he's a master in Munchkin land, but it's got to be a bitch fighting when you have half your opponents' reach.

The Verdict
Four stars.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 7

Wait--why am I using a quill pen in the future, can't someone get me a freaking ThinkPad?

Summary
Feena moves out of the Asagiri house to the Lunar Embassy, supposedly temporarily, so she can focus more on her official duties. For the next week, Feena and Tatsuya don't get to see each other, with Feena trying to focus on work but still thinking about Tatsuya, and Tatsuya feeling down and slipping up at school and his part-time job. Feena comes back briefly one day and her and Tatsuya are happy to see each other--but The Bad Guy, Jurgen, from a powerful anti-Earth faction on the Moon, appears, calling Feena his fiancee. After an icy exchange between Feena and Jurgen, Feena tells Tatsuya she declined his proposal before leaving the Moon, but she ends up heading back to the Embassy. Natsuki gives Tatsuya a pep talk, and Tatsuya realizes he does like Feena romantically--he hurries to the Embassy, manages to meet with Feena and in the end dramatically confesses to her that he likes her.

Thoughts
This episode would get five stars from me, with the drama picking up and the 'a princess shouldn't run away' line from Tatsuya right before the confession--if not for the animation being horrifically bad the second half. The first half looked perfectly good, but right after the commercial break Team Cabbage rises from the depths of Hell and ruins some good dramatic scenes by making the whole cast look like they've been beaten with a fugly stick. Forget trying to read the expressions on people's faces--they all look like they've just been lobotomized. Again, they supposedly corrected all this on the DVD, and if this ever makes it to region 1 I'm buying, but the TV version is horrible.
Aside from that, we do get some good moments--Tatsuya may be a commoner without any special abilities of his own, but he definitely has guts. Mad props to him for not being a spineless male lead and just sulking and/or letting Feena kokuhaku first. They also did a good job showing how Feena and Tatsuya are trying to put some distance between each other for the Greater Good, but they both can't help thinking about each other anyway.
The Bad Guy, Jurgen, is your typical Bad Guy stereotype--you don't see WHY he hates the Earth, and I think if we got a little more background on his character and motivations he'd be a more convincing nemesis. One of my English teachers once told me there was nothing easier than writing bad guys who were completely evil, but they were also the least convincing--it's better to show the reader (or viewer) WHY they are the way they are. It's a short series, it's true, but a few minutes showing his father telling him horror stories about how evil the Earth was, or his dog getting run over by an Earthling, or something would have helped.

The Good
- Good development of Feena and Tatsuya's relationship, showing how although they're trying to put distance between each other, their feelings have progressed to where that's not possible.
- Awesome last scene (well, except for the animation).

The Bad
- Animation quality falls off a cliff, dies horribly, after commercial break.

The Verdict
First half: Five stars
Second half: Two stars - three stars docked for even static scenes looking like crap

Friday, July 06, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 6

They have a kid already?

Summary
Summer vacation is over, and Feena and Tatsuya keep spending time together and getting closer, although neither of them seem to realize it. They're eating ice cream together in a park when Tatsuya accidentally dumps some on Wreathlit, the mystery loli who's been shadowing them--in her mind, we can hear Wreathlit talking to "Fiacca-sama", who warns Wreathlit that Feena and Tatsuya can't be allowed to be together because the Earth and Moon getting closer will only lead to both of their destruction. Everyone but Feena and Tatsuya starts to notice they're acting more like they like each other--Wreathlit doesn't end up doing anything yet, but Sayaka reminds Tatsuya, and Karen reminds Feena, that they come from different worlds, implying they can't stay together. Both Feena and Tatsuya seem to accept this, but seem depressed as the episode ends...

Thoughts
A good, solid episode, on par with the first--the animation quality was high throughout, they did a good job showing how Tatsuya and Feena's relationship has evolved, and there's some angst thrown in at the end.

The Good
- All the Feena x Tatsuya moments.
- Plot getting into gear with some drama.
- Team Cabbage didn't work on the animation for this one.

The Bad
- For once, I can't think of anything.

The Verdict
Five stars.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 5

Is it just me, or does it look like Natsuki's lost the bottom half of her bikini here?

Summary
Feena and company go to the beach, which means it's swimsuit time! You'd think they'd have the A team animate the beach episode, but while most of it looked good, there were a few scenes in this episode that looked like something Konata mailed in on a postcard. Feena shows her l33t skills and perfectly cuts a watermelon, Takano-"sensei" pretends to be a shark and gets his ass beaten down, and everyone decides to take a cruise on Takano's boat. Unfortunately, the boat promptly sinks and strands them on what Takano assures them is a deserted island. Natsuki and Jin freak out, but Feena shows some leadership and reminds everyone they're only supposed to be gone for three days, so everyone will come looking for them soon. Feena and Tatsuya get some quality time alone, and Tatsuya finally makes the connection that Feena was the little girl from the moon he met a long time ago, and had promised to go visit someday. The next day it turns out the island wasn't deserted after all...and Takano gets another beatdown from the cast.

Thoughts
Not bad overall--still the occasional scene where the animation's a little off, but it's nothing like ep 3. Props to Tatsuya for remembering the childhood promise...it seems like 99% of the time the male lead can't remember until the very end (*cough* Yuichi *cough*).

The Good
- Swimsuits. Feena in a bikini is enough reason to watch this episode by itself.
- Good romantic moment with Feena and Tatsuya looking up at the stars.
- Sayaka going into yuri glomping mode on Karen when she gets sloshed.

The Bad
- The whole setup for getting 'stranded' was pretty forced...
- Some occasional lapses in animation quality - but compared to ep 3 this is gold.

The Verdict
Four and a half stars

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 4

Not a good idea...

Summary
Team Cabbage seems to have taken a break and the animation's back to normal--which doesn't mean stellar, but it's much more watchable. Feena, Tatsuya, and Natsuki are walking home from school, when they see a dog drowning in the river--Feena promptly jumps in to save it, but since water is scarce on the Moon, she has no idea how to swim, and starts drowning herself. Tatsuya jumps in to pull her to shore, and, I think for the first time in anime history, instead of doing CPR himself he suggests that Natsuki do it since she's a girl and it'll be less awkward that way. But Natsuki can't bring herself to do it, Tatsuya comes close to giving her a CPR kiss, but then Feena coughs up water and is fine. The second half of the episode we get some background on Tatsuya, Mai, and Sayaka's father, who's basically Indiana Jones, complete with flashbacks of scenes from the movies. Things go wrong when a cockroach appears and Feena decides to go all Rambo on it, in the end destroying most of the study and prompting a lecture from Sayaka.

Thoughts
Overall, this wasn't a bad episode, except for the Rambo part. Sure, exaggerated reactions to things can be funny, but somehow this just didn't work. Maybe because Feena's shown herself to be calm enough at other times that it's hard to imagine her trying to kill cockroaches with a machine gun--in the end, it just seems too out of character. If this was Magikano or Seto no Hanayome, it would have fit in with the insane comedy theme, but Yoakena isn't that type of series--to me it just felt like they went way too far.

The Good
- Sayaka's reaction when the President tells her she's like her daughter and Tatsuya, Feena, and Mai are like granddaughters to her...I'm thinking it's a bad thing to make Sayaka angry...
- Mai hallucinating butterflies.

The Bad
Feena + Rambo = DO NOT WANT

The Verdict
First half: Four stars
Second half: Two stars

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 3

Brought to you by Mrs. Morimoto's 3rd grade Art class.

Reaction to the Horror
Wow. They say when people get in really bad accidents, a lot of the time they won't remember what happened, because the brain is protecting them from the traumatic memory. That's the only explanation I can think of for how the animation in this episode was even worse than I remembered. I've seen before-and-after shots that show they did a significant amount of cleanup on the DVD version, but as I only have the TV broadcast (and I'm not optimistic this will get licensed in Region 1 anytime soon) I can only evaluate what they put on TV.

The plot this time is mainly an excuse to get Feena to wear a waitress's uniform--curious about Tatsuya's part-time job, she goes over to Trattoria Samon, and Jin ends up asking her to help out as a waitress. Although she's never done anything like that before, this is Feena we're talking about and she does a good job charming the customers and taking orders. Jin sets up an Iron Chef-like showdown between Natsuki (known as "Master Carbon" since her cooking is overcooked to an insane level) and Feena, and despite not having cooked before, Feena generally kicks ass at her dishes, while Natsuki even manages to burn salad. Wreathlit, the mystery loli from earlier, gets pulled in to be a judge from the audience, but other than eat she doesn't do much. Feena's declared the winner, but as Tatsuya consoles Natsuki we get the first sign Feena might be a little jealous.

There wasn't anything wrong with the story this episode, and as a big Iron Chef fan this should have been a slam-dunk for getting me to like it, but the animation quality was so bad, so consistently, that it was hard to enjoy watching this at all. Some people argue animation quality isn't important, but for me that's definitely not true--when the animation is bad, it becomes harder to 'read' the characters' expressions, and the sheer mediocrity of the artwork takes away from the story. A good example is a scene where Feena 'glares' at Jin, and Tatsuya and Natsuki look scared--I'm basing this on the BGM for the scene because when you see Feena looking at Jin there's no glare there, and it's impossible to tell what, if any, emotion she's feeling. If they'd given her a real glare, it would have been a funny scene, but instead it loses all impact. For a bishoujo series to make their characters look this bad is about the worst thing the studio can do...this is very likely the worst-animated episode of anime I've ever seen, even early Urusei Yatsura wasn't this bad.

The Good
- They do a really good Iron Chef parody in this episode, with Jin serving as Chairman Kaga, even taking a bite out of a pepper as sweeping music plays in the background. As a big Iron Chef fan, this is enough to bring a smile to my face in spite of everything else. It's too bad there wasn't a theme ingredient declared, although if there was I'd guess it was Battle Cabbage.
- Natsuki taking being a bad cook to a ridiculous level. Burning SALAD? You don't even cook salad! If Tatsuya's right and she's improved a little, I can't even imagine how bad she was before.

The Bad
- The whole cast looked like ass for the entire episode. Everyone was so far off-model it was like watching a completely different series, or a compilation of really, really bad fanart. If everyone was in Suka Card mode for 24 minutes it would have been a vast improvement.

The Verdict
Minus one star for each and every frame of this episode.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 2

Feena + Moonlight = Epic Win

Summary
Feena goes to school with Mai and Tatsuya, and Feena's maid, Mia, has separation anxiety and follows her to school. Tatsuya offers to show Feena around on the way home, but his plans are thwarted when the Royal Motorcade shows up, and Karen, the ambassador, hauls her off to make public appearances/perform official duties. Tatsuya's a little depressed he can't hang out with her, even though he's the main character and everything, but Takano-sensei actually gives some good advice, and he waits for her to get home late at night and tells her he'll do what he can to support her.

Thoughts
Overall, the animation was still solid this episode--there were the occasional moments it was bad, but that was just in a couple spots, and while the character designs are relatively simple, you could at least read the characters' expressions. The story continues to move along, with Tatsuya and Feena getting closer and some good moments between them, but with Tatsuya also getting a taste of how Feena's not just your average girl next door, but she has a lot of responsibility that goes with her position.

The Good
- The scenes with Feena and Tatsuya together were well-done--you can tell there's some chemistry between them.
- Takano-sensei isn't nearly as annoying.
- SD/chibi scenes are cute.

The Bad
- Some of the jokes are already getting repetitive, like Natsuki sending Jin flying, Jin breaks something, Jin's dad says 'I'm docking your pay'.
- Lunar's timing on their subs drives me nuts sometimes--do you really need that pause between "Welcome home" and "Feena" when displaying the sub? Generally, I read the sub, then focus on the animation, which is harder to do when the sub is appearing in fragments.

The Verdict
Four stars...nothing amazing, but so far so good.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cabbage Project: Yoakena 1

Tatsuya, on his way to causing a major diplomatic incident...

Summary
Our story begins with a recap of the Oedipus War, a deadly conflict between the Earth and the Moon in the past--fast-forward to the present, and Princess Feena, from the Kingdom of Sphere which governs the Moon, is on her way to Earth for the first time since she was a little girl. Cut to our protagonist, Tatsuya, who's your average high school student, and surrounded by bishoujos--there's his little sister Mai, osanajimi Natsuki, and other random classmate Midori. After school, Tatsuya and Natsuki go to work at an Italian restaurant, along with Tatsuya's friend (and Natsuki's brother) Jin. Tatsuya goes home afterwards, to find Mai's in shock--his older sister Sayaka, who works at the U.N., informs him that Feena's studying abroad on Earth and will be staying at their house and going to the same high school. After Tatsuya's strange nose-pinching fetish briefly threatens to start World War III, everyone goes to Trattoria Samon to celebrate, and Feena insists Tatsuya and everyone else calls her just Feena, rather than put '-sama' or '-hime' after her name.

Thoughts
For a first episode, this was actually pretty good--clearly Doumu's 'A' team did the artwork for this one, and Team Cabbage has yet to show their unholy hand. The character designs are simple, the artwork is more Lucky Star than Kanon, but hey, it's still watchable and the bishoujo live up to their name. There are some pans over static shots that should have warned me they were on a budget, but in hindsight I'm impressed at least none of the characters are drawn off-model. The cast is likeable too, with Tatsuya a nice, if somewhat generic guy with a habit of pinching noses, and there are some good laughs in addition to some nice moments like when Feena gets Tatsuya to drop the -sama. And the story--there definitely seems to be potential, with the prospect of a love triangle developing between Natsuki, Tatsuya, and Feena, and with the angle of a princess falling for a commoner and all the complications that could fall out of that. At this point last fall, I was optimistic that while the animation lacked the swirling snowflakes of Kanon, Yoakena could still be an awesome series.

The Good
- Tatsuya's waking up Natsuki when she fell asleep in class by whispering 'irrashaimase', making her jolt awake and belt out 'Trattoria Samon e Yokosou!' like she was at her part-time job.
- Midori trying and failing to get Tatsuya to give her the nose pinch.
- Feena faceplanting when she walks into the house from the yard.
- Mai's over-reaction after Tatsuya nose-pinches Feena, where she imagines everyone getting executed.
- Natsuki beating down Jin.
- Feena. It's not Kawasumi Ayako doing her voice, but she still just looks and sounds perfectly princess-like. Plus she's not your typical harem doormat--she's smart, good at almost everything, she'll kick your ass at kendo, and she's cute.

The Bad
- Takano-sensei's appearance--it just wrecks the whole scene, there had to be a better way to get Tatsuya to say Feena without the -sama.
- Lunar makes the uncharacteristic mistake of subbing Feena's name as "Feena fam Ashlight" (instead of Earthlight).

The Verdict (on a scale of 1-5 stars, where 5 is awesome and 1 is like watching "Joanie Loves Chachi")
Four and a half stars. If Takano-sensei had gotten lost in space en route, I'd give it five.

Cabbage Project: Yoakena Revisited

Yoakena was a bishoujo anime series that aired last fall, based on the game of the same name from AugustSoft, and at the time it aired I was eagerly looking forward to it. Maybe I'm a sucker for purple-haired bishoujo princesses, but I couldn't wait to see Feena animated--I hadn't played the game, but just from the few CGs I'd seen she looked like a much more moe version of Lafiel. As Stripey eloquently put it, Feena is one of the uber-bishoujos of the 2D world, and I was optimistic that the Yoakena anime could be great. Little did I know, in the unholy depths of the Produce Aisle from Hell, the Yoakena Cabbage was waiting, waiting for its day in episode 3--a day that will forever live in anime infamy. What I hoped would be a memorable series became memorable for the wrong reasons, with the artwork in some episodes being all kinds of awful (symbolized by the cabbage of doom), and a story that sometimes was good, and sometimes made me wonder if the script was written by retarded baboons.

Having said all that, I decided this summer to do the unthinkable--to re-watch Yoakena. You could well ask why, especially after I ranted about how bad the series was earlier, but I decided in the interest of science and otakudom everywhere, I had to try. Unburdened by high expectations, and knowing some episodes would be animated by a team that appeared to be drawing with their feet, could Yoakena still be a decent anime series overall? Were there really scenes as well-drawn as Stripey's mousepad, and I just forgot about them?

Without further ado, let's find out. Heavy spoilers ahead so be warned...in the next dozen posts I'll be revisiting, episode by episode, the story of the moon princess and the cabbage...