Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Anime Gets Real

Until now, I still cannot forget that day.

My officemate shared the news that come August 2012, "Rurouni Kenshin" will be released in a live-action movie. If there is a term which can topple the phrase "being excited," then, I guess, that described how my colleagues and I felt during that time.

I mean, seeing our favorite ronin of all time slashing his enemies with his reverse-edged sword, protecting the weak and the innocent, and arising from paper to the flesh is indeed a dream come true. Who would not anticipate Himura Kenshin's arrival? "Rurouni Kenshin," also known by the title "Samurai X," originally came from the manga written and drawn by Watsuki Nobuhiro way back in 1994. The anime version came to life  in 1996, with two OVAs following years later, and the live version released last year 2012. 

After more than a year of waiting, "Rurouni Kenshin" finally aired in selected SM cinemas in the Philippines. Because of the limited viewing dates, I thought I would never be able to watch Kenshin on screen. By some stroke of luck, I got lucky! I mean, no matter how many idol groups a girl can idolize, or no matter who her bias in Kat-tun or 2PM is, Kenshin will always be every fangirl's boyfriend--er, virtual boyfriend, that is. 

This will forever be my favorite Kenshin facial expression. "Oro?"

Sato Takeru as Himura Kenshin ("Rurouni Kenshin," 2012)

"Rurouni Kenshin" is not the only anime of its kind that has been adapted to the screen live. Others, too, have their share of seeing real actors portraying different roles. This is not the monopoly of anime, people. American cartoons also have their share of characters brought to life, such as Scooby Doo, Garfield, X-men, Batman, Iron Man, Superman, and all their relatives, cousins, neighbors, classmates, friends, etc. Because this blog entry is dealing with anime and anything related to it, we will settle our focus to anime only. While we are at it, let us have a look into some of them.


Morimoto Kozueko's creation is about a high school teacher who is actually the heir to a Yakuza group. Though she has the qualifications and skills to succeed her grandfather, the current reigning Yakuza boss, she has no intentions of doing so, believing that her heart belongs to the classroom. Yamaguchi Kumiko, also known as Yankumi to her students, is just like any other teacher who longs to handle good students. Like a bad omen, she cannot handle teaching ordinary students, alienating them with her quirky attitude and her use of Yakuza slang. By stroke of luck, it always seem that she handles rowdy male students who spend almost a hundred percent of their time cutting classes and beating up guys from other schools. What a tough job Yankumi must have! But just like in any other story (and in any other relationships), Yankumi grows closer with her students.

This manga series was later adapted into an anime series, both versions with Fuji the dog. Later, this Yakuza girl turns into a real person, with Nakama Yukie bringing Yankumi to life. 

Yankumi in the anime version

The "Gokusen" drama spanned three seasons, each with different set of supporting characters and different set of delinquent students. There were recurring characters too, and the seriousness and comedy that is innate of the Gokusen series never faded. Not only that, Gokusen fans had witnessed Yakumi invading the big screen back in 2009. I thought I was dreaming when I read that Gokusen had a movie franchise, knowing that I often get into a hundred and one (and two, and three, and...) deja vus, but I. Was. Not. Dreaming. At. All! Whoohoo!

Yankumi and her dearly beloved delinquent students
(and one beloved Shin) in Gokusen 1

Nodame Cantabile

If you are one for classical music, this prodigious anime knows your stuff. This brainchild by Ninomiya Tomoko appeared as a manga series since 2001 until 2009. "Nodame Cantabile" aired as a live-action drama in 2006, with a TV drama sequel in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, two movie sequels to the drama were aired. As an anime series, "Nodame Cantabile" had three seasons, each released in 2007, 2008, and 2010.  

The story follows the interaction between two music university students, Noda Megumi aka Nodame and Chiaki Shinichi. Nodame, a supposedly piano genius who plays by ear and purses her lips as she taps the bars, is truly not one for household chores, and is known in the campus for being weird. Her room is as unkempt as a garbage site that she can have a cockroach or two for room mates. Chiaki, on the other hand, is a temperamental genius, a musician-turned-conductor, a perfectionist, and a clean freak who cannot seem to stand Nodame's dirty room and her constant stalking on him. The almost perfect Chiaki, however, has a secret: he has a fear of flying. Despite the differences the two have, they eventually open up to each other and even helping each other grow. 

Well, what do you know? If Love really has a way, it brings two unlikely people together.

My favorite "Nodame Cantabile" scene

Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri as Chiaki and Nodame

Ranma 1/2

Can you imagine someone changing into another gender or another form of living creature just through cold water? I personally do not want to stand in that person's shoes! Well, no matter how odd it seems, that is the theme in this Takahashi Rumiko masterpiece, which brought a lot of laughter and fandom to different people in different countries around the globe.

The manga reigned since 1987, and two anime versions had been made, both of which were shown on air since 1989. Three anime films were also produced. A live television film starring Watanabe Natsuna and Kaku Kento as the female Ranma and the male Ranma, respectively, and Aragaki Yui as Tendo Akane was released in 2011.

The complicated world of Ranma delves in such strange events. Many a martial artist who trained and fell into any of the cursed Jusenkyo springs finds himself transformed into another creature, depending on who or which entity drowned and died in which pool. For the 16-year-old and total boy Saotome Ranma, falling into the pool where a girl drowned transforms him into a woman. How humiliating is that for a guy who has been proud of his masculinity? His father Genma, meanwhile, transforms from a respectable martial arts expert into a placard-holding panda. How cute! A myriad other eccentric characters who transform into any other being through cold water exist to make the story colorful. Ranma and all these other folks turn back to their original form in the availability of hot water. 

Only a few of these characters remain the same throughout the series, such as Akane, her father Soun, and her elder sisters, Kasumi the feminine and Nabiki the scheming.

It's always the panda that gets my attention, はははは.

I had recently seen the live-action with Kaku and Aragaki in it, and pretty much, the producers stuck to the original Ranma storyline, except for the fact that the other characters were not there. No Shampoo, Kodachi, or even Ryoga. But of course, it was due to the fact that most of the storyline came from the early parts of the manga. A new character was made for the movie, Okamada, school vice principal at day, drag queen at night. Like, he was conceived for the purpose of giving some hope for Ranma to eventually stay as a guy forever. If you don't know what I mean, go watch the movie.

Kaku Kento as Ranma and Aragaki Yui as Akane.
Still, the panda gets my attention, はははは. 

Paradise Kiss

I liked Kaku Kento enough to "stalk" his profile in Wikipedia, and I learned that he starred in a live-action film that was also derived from manga: Paradise Kiss.

ParaKiss intrigued me way back in 2009 when I saw it in anime version in Animax. The anime stole my interest away from anything else. What could be lovelier than fashion itself? Filled with designer clothes and chic details, ParaKiss is a must-see for those who want to know the life and drama behind the runway.

The story and drawing of the manga were conceived inside the brilliant mind of Yazawa Ai, a mangaka who was once a fashion student herself. No wonder her creations are so lovely! The manga appeared in the fashion magazine Zipper from 1999 to 2003. 2005 saw the first episode of the anime version, while the live-action film was released in 2011. Kitagawa Keiko, who acted as the main protagonist Hayasaka Yukari a.k.a Caroline, starred alongside Mukai Osamu as Koizumi Jouji a.k.a George, the genius designer behind the designer label Paradise Kiss. Ranma 1/2 star Kaku Kento starred as Nagase Arashi, Igarashi Shunji as Isabella, and Aya Omasa (Sunako anyone?) as Sakurada Miwako. All last three are George's assistants in the boutique.

I like the intricate drawing of "ParaKiss."
I wish I can draw like that. Gosh, I miss drawing!

One thing that I will leave wanting in this blog entry is Yukari's "blue" look during the fashion show. She absolutely looked stunning in her blue gown created by George, but if you want to see her look for yourself, check out the anime or watch the live action. Kitagawa-san really carried that blue gown like she was born to walk on the ramp with it. But of course! She was a former model before she got serious with acting. Was she really destined to play Yukari or what?

Mukai Osamu and Kitagawa Keiko

Dragon Ball

The two things I could not forget about the Dragon Ball saga were Gohan training under Piccolo, and Angel Goku (Goku with the halo on his head) running along the miles-long Snake Road in "Dragon Ball Z." Since then, I became hooked.

This Toriyama Akira creation started as a manga, and was first seen in Weekly Shonen Jump in 1984. Later, in 1986, the anime version was born. In this series, we saw Goku as a young child. As the story progressed, the anime "Dragon Ball Z" was conceived, and in here, Goku was married and had a family of his own. More anime versions were created in the following years, such as "Dragon Ball GT" in 1996 to 1997, and "Dragon Ball Kai" from 2009 to 2011.

The Dragon Ball universe was so popular that even games were created to cater to the demands of the fans. Due to the many characters intertwined with each other, I lost track of all of them, though I cannot forget Goku and some of his allies. 

Goku in his Super Saiyan form doing the Kame Hame Ha.

Would you believe it? There are seventeen--yes, 17 Dragon Ball anime films released in history of the Dragon Ball saga. I remember one movie was shown here in the Philippines, the one where Gohan had a girlfriend, and Krillin had a wife. If you have known others shown here, please let me know.

Different live-action versions were also produced with different outcomes at the box-office. The recent one was "Dragon Ball Evolution," which was released in cinemas last 2009. Unlike the other live-action films wherein Japanese actors portrayed the characters, the characters in "Dragon Ball Evolution" were multi-national. Actually, Goku was portrayed by Justin Chatwin, while the antagonist Piccolo was portrayed by James Marsters, who  rose to fame as Spike in the TV series "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." The said movie was a flop, and die-hard Dragon Ball fans were disappointed with the outcome of the movie. I don't know, but I have yet to see this. Too bad for me.

Dragon Ball Evolution, starring Justin Chatwin as Goku

Blood: The Last Vampire

It's not only Stephenie Meyer's Edward Cullen, Bram Stoker's Count Dracula, and Anne Rice's Lestat de Lioncourt who occupied the realm of vampire fiction. This one comes through, wielding her sword to slash enemies to bits. Nuh-uh, Sweetheart, she is not your typical fanged entity. And here comes this dark anime called "Blood: The Last Vampire."

"Blood: The Last Vampire" appeared first as an anime film back in 2000, was produced by SPE Visual Works and Production I.G, and was directed by Kitakubo Hiroyuki. A sequel, "Blood: The Last Vampire 2000," surprisingly, a one-volume manga, got published in 2001. This was written by Tamaoki Benkyo. "Blood: The Last Vampire 2002," was published in English in November 2002 by Viz Media. Three light novels and a video game were conceived thereafter. Two similar projects, "Blood +" and "Blood-C," were created as separate anime series. A live-action film of "Blood: The Last Vampire," a remake of the anime film, was released way back in 2009.

The story of the 2009 live-action Blood follows the half-vampire, half-human Saya, who is out to get and destroy original vampires while seeking to kill the strongest vampire of all. The 2000 anime film follows Saya, who goes through all stuff, including going undercover as a student, to seek out and kill chiropterans. Blood +, which was inspired from the original Blood movie and aired from 2005 to 2006, follows Otonashi Saya, killer of chiropterans. In this anime series, Saya not only has to fight the creatures who are out to get her, she also has to to undergo self-discovery as she has no memories of her old life. Blood-C, which is both the title of a 2011 anime/manga and a 2012 movie, recounts the story of a kind-hearted yet clumsy Kisaragi Saya, who learns sword-handling from her father. However, Saya has to overcome several obstacles, which were created to test the tenacity of her kind heart. The common denominator of these stories is: a girl with a sword, fighting evil creatures out there.

The Saya from "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2000)

Otanishi Saya from "Blood +" (2005)

Joon Ji Hyun as Saya, "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2009)

Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge

The first two things I noticed in the anime:

* Wow! How come those guys are so hot?
* Who is that little kid among those flower boys?

At first, I just didn't get it. Not until my curiosity got the best of me. As I watched the anime, I finally realized that Nakahara Sunako, for that is what the girl is called, turns into her chibi form whenever she feels insecure around the four handsome guys. 

This must-see anime is thanks to Hayakawa Tomoko, whose masterpiece was serialized in a manga in 2000 by Bessatsu Friend. Kodansha, later on, compiled the manga into 31 volumes. From 2006 to 2007, a part of the "Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge" manga was adapted into a 25-episode anime series by Nippon Animation. In January 2009, it was announced that a live-action drama series of the manga will be aired. Actor-singer Kamenashi Kazuya of Kat-tun and "Tokyo Girl" star Omasa Aya were announced to be one of the cast for the said live version.

"The Wallflower" revolves around the lives and interaction between the main characters: insecure Sunako, gluttonous and ill-tempered Takano Kyohei, cool and brainy Oda Takenaga, sweet kid Toyama Yukinojo "Yuki," and remorseless playboy Morii Ranmaru. 

Due to the great rejection of her first love, Sunako transforms from the regular girl who cares for her looks into the macabre princess who shuns all beautiful things. She goes into the unthinkable extreme by hanging out with creepy items such as anatomical dolls, skeleton models, and bottles with specimens submerged in formaldehyde. Her favorite pastimes include watching horror movies, shutting herself inside her dark room, and hanging out in the Science laboratory. Now, how creepy can that be? 

Now, thanks to Auntie's bidding, these guys have to--literally, transform Sunako into the lady fit for society. But, what can they do? Sunako simply hates the presence of mortals who seem like gods and goddesses walking around her. And what does Sunako do? Go into explosive nosebleeds, that's what.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and that was what Takano Kyohei sees in her. Though she may not be the typical girl who puts on makeup and flirts around with guys, Sunako was one unique girl who steals Kyohei's heart without her intention.

But hey, Sunako can be cool sometimes! She can cook, and she is good with household chores. When the bad guys go running around wrecking havoc or being impolite, it is Sunako who cuts them some slack in that no-nonsense and I-don't-care-who-you-are way of hers. So there!

If you are surrounded with gorgeous guys, what will you do?

The live-action drama adapted the manga pretty much, except for the fact that Auntie has a son, Takeru. If you just want to watch the drama to stare at Kame's face, then it really is up to you. But this I tell you: you definitely should not miss watching the live-action series.

I bet Sunako will love holding a scythe to match her look.

Well, well, well. I guess my discourse has ended. 

You see, seeing your favorite anime series turning into a live-action TV series or film sure is fun. Who would act as who? Will it be the same as the manga or anime, or will the producers deviate a bit? So much expectations out there, but we all should see for ourselves. I am not against the idea of tweaking the manga and anime a bit just to suit the need of the live-action feature just as long as the live-action one will not be seen swerving too much from the original ones... if you know what I mean.

And before I end this post, I would like to share this picture below. Really, the resemblance is just to perfect, like the actor from the Ranma live feature came straight out from paper!

Why do I still find myself laughing at the uncanny resemblance?

Photo credit to all owners. Thank you so much for all your wonderful pictures.

And so, I will have to say sayonara, and see you all again for more posts. Have a good day, everyone! Love you lots!

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