Hara Hetta

Viva la Moe!~

What makes Aria so great?

Posted by sunggyu on June 26, 2010

A mini review on why Aria has a special place in my heart

Many people have asked me “what is it about this show that deserves such praise?” It’s difficult to put into words, but Aria remains to this day my favorite anime of all time, with Legend of the Galactic Heroes close behind.

From casually watching a few episodes the immediate response people get is, “All they do is row boats all day?” This analysis isn’t completely wrong, and for the majority of the time, the show is pretty uneventful. If I had to make a criticism about the show, it wouldn’t be it’s lack of plot, since one of the driving points of Aria is there are hidden joys in even the most ordinary things. Aria drives home the idea that, “there is beauty all around us, if only we simply look around.” And there is quite a bit of thematic presence to the show that exceeds far beyond that simple motif. Each episode contains a life lesson to be had, and audiences will be surprised with the keen insights Aria can provide. Aria does tend to be almost sickeningly saccharine, but once again, Aria doesn’t just throw rose pedals in the air and make out the world to be flawless without qualifications. Aria addresses some very profound and thought provoking subject matter, and tends to pit optimism against reality. Aria simply chooses to fall onto the optimistic side of the scale simply because the perception of reality is how you choose to see it. There is good in the world, and also the bad, but you have the choice to enjoy life to the fullest even in it’s hardest moments. Aria makes a bold claim, but the show isn’t without merit. Perhaps if Aria were to balance it’s sweet nature with some more brooding material it would attract more audiences that dislike such an optimistic view on life. For me however, it detracts nothing from the show.

Aside from themes, the production value of Aria from an objective standpoint is admirable. But I have to mention the music here. The music is top notch, and arguably one of the greatest OSTs I have ever heard. It isn’t often you come across a soundtrack that can convey such strong emotions even without the context of the show. But of course, I suggest you head down to Anime Instrumentality if you really want an in-depth review on the Aria OSTs.

But above all else, there is one facet of Aria that keeps me as a dedicated fan. Aria has the innate ability to create a sense of complete and total atmospheric immersion. Aria oozes atmosphere and creates a great sense of intimacy for the audience. The world of Neo-Venezia crosses the line from fiction, to a tangible world that is created within the minds and hearts of the audience. When a show can transcend the medium of T.V. and cross into the threshold of imagination, this is where art is created. When flickering lights on a digital screen, can induce a vivid sense of wonder. When you think to yourself, “this world feels real to me, and it feels like I am a part of this world” is when atmosphere is being properly conveyed. Aria does this better than any anime I have seen. Deliberate pacing, and character driven story is the heart of Aria. The plot never moves forward arbitrarily simply because the author forces it to. The story is open and free flowing, and comes across as an organic narrative that moves forward naturally, without redundant plot twists, or nonsensical character moments. Aria feels genuine, and most importantly the characters feel genuine even in an extraordinary context. These characters keep you grounded, and help create a sense of atmosphere even more. The world of Aria is alive, and brimming with wonder and beauty. When was the last time you described an anime like that?

Aria is a daring endeavor in the industry. There are no flashy fights, no gripping narrative, and no real hook the keep the audience coming back for more. What Aria does have, is intimacy. The ability to relate with the viewers not only on an emotional or intellectual level but on a human level. The music, the writing, and the characters: the entire world of Neo-Venezia  is deeply embedded into my conscious. There is still a deep sense of nostalgia rises up with in me as I carry on with my daily routine. I always remind myself, “Enjoy all things in life, even in hard times.” I have Aria to thank for that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Usagi Drop: A manga about living, and learning

Posted by sunggyu on April 6, 2010

A rare gem, and a fulfilling read; Usagi Drop intimately portrays its characters with depth and complexity

That was a profound title for a blog entry wasn’t it? No I’m joking. Now I’m not being smug believe it or not, there is some truth to the overbearing title. Also spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned, but no worries, this isn’t a manga where spoilers will have any impact on the enjoyability of the series. It is something that must be experienced, to be fully appreciated. Usagi Drops synopsis follows something like this:

Going home for his grandfather’s funeral, thirty-year-old bachelor Daikichi is floored to discover that the old man had an illegitimate child with a younger lover! The rest of his family is equally shocked and embarrassed by this surprise development, and not one of them wants anything to do with the silent little girl, Rin. In a fit of angry spontaneity, Daikichi decides to take her in himself! But will living with this overgrown teenager of man help Rin come out of her shell? And hang on, won’t this turn of events spell doom for Daikichi’s love life?! -yenpress

Misleading is the first word that comes to mind when I read the synopsis. Somehow you get a semblance of slapstick comedy that focuses on the mis-happenings of Daikishi. Somewhat true, but it’s definitely not the center piece of this manga. This manga focuses on the Daikishi’s ongoing struggles with parenthood, and the many obstacles that must be faced in the face of adversity. Learning to mature, learning to bond, learning to sacrifice, and ultimately learning to become content and satisfied with his life.

This manga really shines because it’s a indepth character study of so many people. Not just the story around Daikishi and his journey with Rin, but all the people that surround them and their journeys as well. I’m really interested in Daikishi’s sister and to see how she’s fairing. She was apprehensive about having children and she was to get married. It’s been 10 years, where is she now? I’m sure it’ll be addressed and that’s what makes this manga so fulfilling to read. Watching characters grow and evolve, powerful stuff. If you want a reference point Usagi Drop rings similarly to Solanin, and Ciguatera . Not in terms of tone or plot, but in the way the author chooses to focus on building up these characters, and focusing on their journey as individuals. One could also compare it to Harukana Machi-E and My Girl, that both deal with similar character studies.

The author is deals with the manga in subtle ways. Each character represents a different thought plane and allows the characters to learn from each other. This makes the interactions between characters not as a device to move the plot forward, but as a necessity that mirrors life. The characters become alive, and black and white ink becomes vivid color when combined with the imagination of the human mind. The depth, and the dimension of these characters allow people to read and to bond with these characters, learn with them, grow with them. They say the trickiest craft of writing characters, is to make them appear plausible. Usagi Drop accomplishes and so much more.

All in all Usagi Drops is a rare gem. It’s a snippet of the lives of a rag-tag collection of people with their own foibles, strengths, and fears. After reading each chapter you ask yourself “where are these characters going, where will they be in the future, and what have they learned?” These are questions that are interconnected with the reader, and thus the manga becomes personal, and in a sense quite intimate. Usagi Drops is certainly not a masterpiece in this regard, Even Onani Master Kurosawa felt far more intimate, but one must remember, Usagi Drops has a much bigger scope and deals with a far more relevant and delicate issue.

Chapter 24 is perhaps the best chapter in the manga to date, and I strongly urge anyone who is in the mood for a good slice of life manga give it a go. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Posted in Manga/Manhwa, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Hara Hetta dead?

Posted by sunggyu on April 4, 2010

No of course not. Just busy. I’ll be updating more frequently so have no fear I’m still alive.

Posted in My World, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Denpateki na Kanojo – A solid entry into the psychological thriller genre

Posted by sunggyu on September 4, 2009

bd60b95d3fb0de2d26b2e0d15c817c6f

Yikes, what a long winded title. With joking aside, the title of this post reflects my opinion perfect about the first episode of the Denpateki na Kanojo OVA perfectly. The psychological thriller genre is one that holds a very special place in my heart. From the early days of Hitchcock, to the masterpieces of Kubrick, I have been infatuated with the twisted inner workings of the human mind, and the profoundly dark and often times destructive nature of human beings. When it comes to films, psychological horror is dime a dozen, but when it comes to anime the genre is quite scarce, so when I first learned about Denpateki na Kanojo, I approached to OVA with high hopes, and for my faith, I was rewarded with one of the most atmospherically engrossing thrillers I have seen in a long time. While the OVA is not on par with Monster or Serial Experiments Lain, Denpateki na Kanojo remains as one of my favorite recent endeavors. Denpateki na Kanojo, is certainly treading familiar ground, but is doing it with confidence and gusto.

A brief synopsis taken from MAL: Juuzawa Juu is a delinquent high school boy who just wants to be left alone. One day, he is approached by Ochibana Ame, who claims that she knew him in a previous life, and now wants to serve him as his “knight”. At first Juu wants nothing to do with Ame, but after a classmate is murdered, he accepts her help as he looks for the killer.

The story is something we’ve seen before in some form or another. But where the story lacks in originality, it certainly makes up for it with atmosphere. Very rarely does a show have tha ability to really grip the audience without clonking us over the head with blatant and in your face plot twists. It takes quite a bit of skill to move a story forward with atmosphere, excellent pacing, and masterful characterization. If these three concepts are understood and successfully executed, then we have a great show on our hands. The plot, as important as it is, will become second nature, and flow more naturally. That said, there are plenty of plot driven anime that deliver the same enjoyment, but that’s not where I’m looking today.

What I’m looking for is an anime that oozes atmosphere from every orophous and has the ability to make my hairs stand on end without so much as a word from the main characters. Oddly enough Denpateki na Kanojo does NOT, accomplish this. Putting in the same cateogry as Aria (which has unbelievable atmosphere) and Monster (which not only provides a dark, brooding tone, but also a masterfully crafted story), would be a diservice to these masterpieces. However, Denpateki na Kanojo does try it’s hand at this difficult artform and comes out with impressive results.

Although it’s a step behind the masterpieces mentioned before, it does take a step forward when compared to the countless anime that are released every season. It surely isn’t a masterpiece, but it is definitely something to look into. Every once in a while, taking the road less traveled with produce rewarding results.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Rika Furude Dakimakura Surprise!~

Posted by sunggyu on June 30, 2009

8894127e6760b6001ccc578c68586704You will snuggle with me~

There are two things that have prevented me from purchasing a dakimakura in the past.

  1. The outrageous price.
  2. Very few dakimakura designs appeal to me.

With that said, a few weeks ago while watching the third episode of Higurashi Rei, I was doing some research and was made aware of a certain Rika dakimakura that would come bundled with the Limited Edition DVD of the third episode of Rei. At 104 dollars, the price was no laughing matter, but temptation got the best of me, and I decided to go ahead and purchase it. There were a few factors I used to justify this otherwise outrageous purchase. I reasoned with myself that dakimura cost upwards to 100 dollars to begin with, so the fact that this bundle comes with the actual Higurashi Rei DVD would only be a plus, after all, I wasn’t buying the DVD for the pillowcase. That would be absurd…= P

In any case, it ended up being a huge impulse buy that I soundly regretted later. Even so, I buckled down and accepted my sordid mistake and vowed never to buy otaku goods on a whim ever again; a bitter lie, coming from a man without a cent left in his pocket. In the end after I finally received the shipment, I ended up being quite happy with my purchase. Don’t get me wrong, snuggling with a Rika dakimakura is something I have only DREAMED of, but a poor college student needs to put his priorities straight. Rika, or rent, that’s one hell of a tough call. In any case, none of you actually care about the process in which I bought my dakimakura, so  I’ll show off some pictures now since that’s all you folks probably want to see.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anime, Merchandise | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Summer 2009 Preview

Posted by sunggyu on June 12, 2009

summer-2009-v2-export

You say you want a bigger version of the chart? Sure! ->CLICK HERE! <-

Finals are done, school is out, and I finally get a much needed breather. The summer season is almost upon us, so now is a good time to look at this season’s line up, and hope for the best. Truthfully I haven’t been too into the last two season’s offerings. There were a few hits, but a lot of misses, but this summer seems to showcase a great deal of new shows, as well as some returning heavy weights, and promises to be one of the more hypefilled seasons of the year. With that said, let’s dive into it, and see what hidden gems we can expect in the months to come.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anime | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A less than glorious return to blogging

Posted by sunggyu on April 30, 2009

01ff7d158a12e4437ad682432e30b702

This is my first post in quite a while. Although I don’t have too many readers, I think it’s about time to explain my long absence.

For those who have been reading up on my blog, the time that was available for blogging, and anime in general was severely undermined by the fact that my grandmother’s condition began to worsen. I decided to take some time out of my schedule to care for her, even so I managed to write an entry or two here and there.

Sadly on April 3, 2009 my grandmother passed away. I was busy with funeral preparations as well as having to deal with a few legal disputes between overzealous family members. On top of that, I thought it was crucial to take a bit of time off in order to reorganize and re-evaluate my life, so I decided to take a break from blogging. As a result of this I had to put off some of my daily duties, most notably this blog, and my podcast, and  some new obligations as well, most notably my new writing position on the Anime Instruemtality Blog.

I can not deny that I have severly neglected my responsabilities to the site, and I would like to formally apologize to zzeroparticle, the site’s manager and chief writer. There really is no excuse for me to have suddenly droped off the face of the planet for a month without any indication as to why. I do take my responsabilites quite seriously, so I humbly apologize.

Within the next week, I will return to blogging, andreturn to a more daily routine. To the very few readers I have, I would like to give out an apology for leaving without so much as a word. It was a fault on my part. Till then.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Supercell ft. Hatsune Miku is Super Awesome

Posted by sunggyu on March 9, 2009

sample-c20eb1e2fef64e2fa0569b3c43c128bcBRS❤

Hurah, my glorious return to blogging. My entries may be a bit infrequent, but at least I’m back. I’ve never really been a die hard Miku Hatsune fan, but I decided to purchase the Supercell album, if only because I have heard most of the songs on the album before, most notably Black Rock Shooter, and I love the art. What I wasn’t expecting was a kickass CD, and a fantabulous mini artbook. Overall the CD is produced fairly well, with some fantastic accompanying instrumentals from Supercell, and of course Miku sounds as good as a computer synthesized voice can get. Was it worth the price? Well, nothing beats bumping Miku Hatsune on your car’s shitty sound system. The real kicker is the fact that I actually BOUGHT the CD which is unprecedented seeing as how my last ACTUAL CD purchase was sometime in 2007. That’s almost an entire year without having bought one CD. In any case, I would recommend getting the limited edition if there are any still available. Of course, there are pictures…^-^

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Merchandise, Music | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Life’s Tribulations: Hara Hetta on Temporary Hiatus

Posted by sunggyu on February 8, 2009

sample-2b9d600f98cd882052aa0269ea96388c

Life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls at you during very important times. For the past few months I have been preoccupied with schoolwork, so much so that I had to quit my job, and cut down on blogging. However, very recently my grandmother contracted Phenomena, and I was informed that she was slowly recovering. I brushed it off, knowing that should we recover eventually, but after I returned home from an otaku outing with friends today, I received a phone call from the Good Samaritan Hospital in L.A. informing me that she has once again been admitted to the hospital, and was unconscious. They further explained that after an MRI, they could find no definitive problem. I later discussed the matter with my parents, whom I have been on rough terms for a year or so, making the matter even more painful. Later on the hospital called me once again and informed me that my grandmother had a clot of some sort, but would not be able to undergo any kind of surgery due to her age. At this point I’m still in the dark, and plan on visiting the hospital myself tomorrow and learn what her circumstances are.

My grandmother raised me for nearly my entire childhood, and I owe her my life. As I grew older, and started to become a bit more rebellious and became an obnoxious little delinquent, I treated my grandmother insensitively to say the least. I have always regretted being unable to give her an apology. It was because of many sacrifices on her part that I could grow up happy. I wanted to show her my gratitude, and to at least pay her back in some way, So I decided to start visiting and assisting her as long as I possibly can, even if it means taking time out of my own schedule.

So for the next few months, I will be driving back and forth between here and L.A. every few days and keeping my grandmother company, making sure she eats well, and just making sure she is happy and comfortable. Because of this, as well as my increasingly important school work, I’ll have almost no time to blog. I will still update as often as I possibly can, but keep in mind that many of my actives that are associated with anime and manga will be cut down severely. I’ll be sure to start blogging feverishly when things have settled down again, but I ask you guys be patient as this blog is on a temporary hiatus.

This will be my last entry for some time, and as promised here is the Shugo Chara OP/ED collection I have amassed. I wish I could post this entry on a lighter note, but things just aren’t looking up. Be sure to give credit to kitty87 at Zero Degrees for sharing this with me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in My World, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

To Aru Majutsu no Index OP2 Single: Masterpiece

Posted by sunggyu on February 3, 2009

cf40d0be5b83c7f3525198a0eacb5341I have an idea~

Although this is indeed the full single, I suggest you BUY it, but for those who absolutely can not wait, feel free to download the single from the link provided below, as a sampling of the single. Be sure to give a huge shout out to Dbsoul at z-degrees.net for uploading it. This is the seventh single from Mami Kawada, and is the second opening for “A Certain Magical Index”

Download Link:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Anime, Music | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »