Katawa Shoujo

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From eroticism to job ethics... thought´s and dillemas from an exiled artist wannabe.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tsundere: The Iron Virgins

I have a passion for tsunderes. I think is something written deep inside my mind since my childhood when i got in touch with my first animes. Looking back, probably i can trace tsundere characters back to Ranma's Akane Tendou or even further to Lum the invader girl.

For those unaware of the terminology involved, a "tsundere" is one kind of girl personality: It defines a girl who tries to act strong and tough around others (Tsun Tsun in japanese) but she is soft and squishy on the insides (Dere Dere in japanese).  Due to japan's strict society, this is a common personality trait often reflected in anime and manga, and has produced many memorable characters. Even a certain seiyuu, the magnificent Kugimiya Rie has specialized on those kind of characters, giving voice to acclaimed tsundere characters as Shana, Louise (Zero no Tsukaima) or my personal favourite: Aisaka Taiga.

Taiga Aisaka in Dere mode: the main reason Toradora is considered one of the best animes of the decade.

Too much TsunTsun for too little DereDere
The rules to tsundere characters are simple: They tend to be girls with problems to express their feelngs, mainly due to an overexcess of shame in accepting behaviours that may be perceived as weak for external onlookers (a trait usually more common to men), like love, thankfulness or admiration.

To shield themselves from that shame they go to great extent in forging an external character facade of agressive behaviour destined to pull away any who tries to aproach their inner feelings.This can make them go to various ranges of confrontation, from verbal harrassment to physical assault (and even the use of badly maiming weaponry), usually preceded by heavy blushing.
Alice Margatroid depicting one of the classic Tsun expressions.
Even though tsunderes are cute in their effort to act strong, wich has granted them a considerable amount of fans, not all tsunderes manage to become famous. Some even break the mold to search new areas of personality, with various amounts of success.

One of the most infamous cases of tsundere going wrong may be Yozora, the main female character from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. Presented to the watcher giving verious clues of tsundere personality. Ufortunately once paired with the external factor of Kashiwazaki Sena, her series feminine partner, the crescent rage she develops against her transforms her into a sadist.

Her soft and lovey moments are reduced to almost none, while on the other she makes the habit of constantly verbally abusing and humiliating Sena even without motive, going as far as to frequently calling her "pig" or "meat", as well as making her object of some pretty sick jokes which make Sena cry. This extremely sadic behaviour basicaly negates any possible cuteness the character may have, effectively turning a promising tsundere into a complete bitch.

Sena and Yozora in one of their frequent quarrels
This has produced an interesting phenomena, where Sena has grown a bigger amount of fans that simpatize with her, outshining the main character in the series. (In fact going as far as to creating an alternative series: Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Plus, where the same story is retold with Sena as the main feminine character instead, leaving Yozora a seconary role).

Other interesting new variant of tsundereness we can find on this season´s alternative to the Black Butler: Inu x Boku SS protagonist Shirakin Ririchiyo is a cute and sexy black haired loli with a serious case of badmouthing. Most tsunderes usually only present her agresive trait against the main masculine characters they are fond of, but Ririchiyo is a bit diferent. She is desperately trying to make friends, but due to her difficult past of isolation the only way she knows of communicating with others is via verbal harrassment and depreciation.

This will push her during the series through a growing amount of frustration as she is unable of basic human comunication to say a simple "thank you" to the people she cares about. Most of the series humour moments revolve about her inner conversations, trying to muster the courage to speak nice things and not just being an asshole to everyone (and usually failing miserably).

Ririchiyo is referred by her roommates as a tsunshun as she gets depressed after yelling at people.
The future
Unfortunately Inu X Boku is a seasonal anime wich has just finished airing with a pretty conclusive ending giving little room for new seasons, so any further tsundere needs for the rest of the year will be dependant on the what the new anime season will have to offer.

Luckily, after the closing seasons of Zero no Tsukaima and Shakugan no Shana have been aired, and with no perspectives for new seasons of Toradora!, character designers have a safe spot to tweak the tsundere stereotype in search for a new girl that will captivate a new generation of tsundere lovers.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Needless - An Anime and Manga Review

It's quite difficult for me to write an unbiased opinion of Needless. This is the first time in some years i've been going fanboy all over the place about something anime related. And what saddens me is that the general impression you get on the internets is that this series is completely overlooked by anime and manga fans alike. So today i'm not going to make a critical review, and instead I am gonna try to convince you why you should give the Needless anime and manga a chance.

But first things first: What's this about?

Needless is set in a post apocaliptic setting. Well, kinda. Japan was bombed during world war 3 by heavy weaponry of unknown sources, causing enormous devastation circular areas with high degree of contamination. Those abandoned areas where commonly known as Black Spots. Cities recurred to the Black Spots to throw their unwanted trash, and soon homeless and lowlifes began intruding in the black spots to make a life from the trash in there, eventually stablishing towns and cities inside the blackspot.

A Black Spot: Going Fallout in the middle of Japan

The radiation inside the Black Spot caused this people to mutate and gain strange abilities. Fearing the possible spread of the mutation, the government walled and sealed the blackspot deeming the inhabitants as Needless. Years after though, the powerful Simeon farmaceutical company stablishes on the black spot and starts hunting down the Needless for unclear purposes, which rises a rebellion against them.

Main character Cruz Schild (though most usually called Yamada) is the sole survivor of a Simeon ambush on the resistance. While fleeing he is saved by a strange priest with a ridiculous strenght (Adam Blade) who offers him shelter in a tiny church. It doesn't take too long before him and the other residents of the church are targeted by Simeon's Needless sent off to finish the job. Unluckily for them Adam is a Needless too, with the ability to memorize other abilities and use them on his own behalf.

It won't take long for Simeon take interest in Blade, and a lot of powerful needless to start gathering around both Blade and Arclight, the powerful president of the Simeon Black Spot branch, which for some reason holds quite a resemblance to Blade.
Adam Arclight and Adam Blade, on one of their friendly chats.

I guess until here you might say... Well, nothing that original. And you might be true. On my opinion, what i like the most of Needless is how the series excels in maximizing it's three main focus points: Action, Humour, and Fanservice.


One of the reason this series is so cool is because is an old style shounen: it has manly men, great combat action and power escalation.

Lately, most shounen protagonist tend to be wimpy losers with no personality at all. Long gone are the days of the muscled hero fighting for justice. With the notable exception of legendary Kamina and his underling Simon, the last years hace been quite devoid of powerful manly presence on the anime scene. On Needless however, all the guys show a proud bodybuilder body, and an aura of cool awesomeness. Seriously, even the soon overpowered Teruyama Momiji's glance seems to be saying: "I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome i am!". "Manly" is the first word of a Black Spot resident dictionary.
And girls, despite being cute, can also pack quite a punch.

Combat in Needless is also cool as hell, for as any good shounen, the important thing is not to beat your opponent but to boast how awesome you are while you are beating the living shit out of him. And for this there is nothing that says Shonen better than... Called Attacks!!!

Each Needless one and only ability, which he/she usually names on something short and autoexplanative just to have something to call it when you explain your enemy in detail how you are going to anihilate him without mercy (Graviton, Magnet or Raindancer). But also, they name their attacks on the most awesome names they can find around, and that's when fun starts. Some of those attacks become terror itself and in special cases define the character itself (In the end of the series i couldn't help but to scream "Daionhadou!!" each time Saten released his "Fourth wave").

Additionally power scalates almost evenly during the series, so even if some character seems weaker during a fight, he will surely come stronger on the next. Even when in some moments it seems some character is so powerfull that will overshadow the others, the author just cuts him away from the spotlight for some time and sidestoring with the rest of the team.


One of the main selling points for me in Needless was the absurd amount of jokes. Characters are sometimes driven by primary emotions and end up quarrelling and fighting even for absurdities with their own teammates, which remind me a lot of the Straw hat pirates.
Humour, Action, and Fanservice, all in just one scene.
Anime Version of the PedoBear exterminator.
There's a certain popular phrase in Brazil that says: "prefers losing the friend than losing the joke", and that applies to Needless too. Characters are amoral enogh to put their friends in mortal danger just for laughs sake. They can pull jokes even in the most dramatic situations, and the situations tend to easily escalate from funny to hilarious.


No matter your preferences, Needless will satiate them. You have lots of lolis offering pantyshots and damaged clothes. You have macho guys with toned up muscles. You have busty woman, yuri, and even quite an high amounts of crossdressing (in the manga).
They event went as far as to create the most yuri ending of all times, featuring the Simeon Pretty Killer Girls Squad getting down and dirty with very little clothes (by the way, only Kuchinashi is lesbian on the story)
Not even Setsuna managed to withstand the ending.

Overall, this three points and a compelling story are enought to provide a good shounen, but Needless exceeds that with a cast of characters with unbounded charisma.

The main characters Blade and Eve are very cool and hilarious, and hold a lot of secrets that keep them interesting through the story.

Cruz, adds the drama factor to the story. From the very beggining you understand that he is the true hero of the story despite being useless. He is the one that despite not being a Needless, will learn how to stop being needless by exploiting his natural ability for logical reasoning and investigation. As the story goes he will start going Detective Conan in the midst of battle to find flaws on enemy abilities and help his group to succeed against all odds.
Cruz, the young detective, and Yamada, his girly alter ego in the manga.

The enemies are all well designed and have interesting powers and great deal of secrets themselves: The best of Needless is that the enemies are not just evil, but instead they are just pursuing their own objectives, so you can simpatize with them and even cheer for them. The author sure knows that the Simeon faction must have lots of admirers so many times former enemies will turn to be allies for some time, and then turn to be enemies later on, raising a lot the fan factor. This is the particular case of the Killer Girls, Saten (or even Kafka).
The Killer Girls are constantly switching from friendly to assassin mode.

Well, I hope this has served to caught your interest and you will give this series a try.
The anime covers the Simeon story arc with an alternate ending (and Saten stealing the scene as final boss for some chapters). But the anime left me wanting for more so i went head on to grab the manga, currently being scanlated by PewPew fansubs. The series at the moment spans 100 manga chapters and is still ongoing, and has introduced a lot of new characters and situations.

So if you like shounen in the line of one piece, with tons of humour and awesome battles, you should definetely give Needless a try. I myself i'm glad that I decided to follow my brother's recommendation, as i discovered one of my favourite series from all time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A girl to die for - Lily's path review for Katawa Shoujo

"Can you see what I see?"

Wow... That was one nice story. Seems my decision of leaving Lilly for the last dish was a lucky one, as the story pretty much sums up all what the game has to offer.

First things first: I was not even a bit interested in Lilly from Act 1. She seemed too serious, too classy, too motherly... But i guess that there is more than meets the eye. I think that's the phrase that mostly defines Lilly. As you cross the barrier of Act 1 and start gaining confidence you end discovering a different girl inside. She can be impish and playful at times, cute at some others, and even scary if you press certain triggers.

Lily is pretty cute when she pouts
While Emi's story was a vision of real love, the one you can expect on your everyday live, Lily's story is the one that felt more like an romantic eternal love like those on movies and novels. Everything on your relation with Lilly is perfect even within the imperfections. Your dates, your confession, the way others percieve your relation, your daily live... You are the perfect couple...

...with a perfectly healthy adolescent sex drive.
The path has some memorable scenes. I specially liked their first date, and the various tea parties. But the holiday vacation sure is a landmark event on the story that will produce a fair amount of interesting scenes and will set the story moving forward. The climatic ending at the airport is also a masterfully written event that will grab you to the seat cheering for Hisao to suceed against all odds.

It's specially interesting to see how the relation with Shizune is skillfully handled in the background. Continous hints of Lilly's motives to be at war with the student council are given through the plot, and even Akira will take part on helping you solve the enigma of their shared past. The end of the academic year at Yamaku brings the perfect mood to put their hate aside and finishing with a heartwarming scene that will surely have your mind going "aawwww!" all over the place.

Broken Guy
Lilly's story is about a love that trascends time: A love worth risking your live for... And poor Hisao plays his part like a master at that.

In no story arrythmia becomes a more dramatic companion than in this one: The casual pains on the other story paths here become full fledged heart flutters and heart attacks, sending poor Hisao to the ground more than once, sometimes in the most inapropriate situations (killing your boyfriend from sex should cause you a life long trauma (XD)). This episode will eventually end sending him back to the hospital room, which will make you more aware of how precious your life is, and entwines well with the overall delicate aura of the story.

On the other side, Lilly's blindness is adressed always as a very natural problem that doesn't affect the way she sees the world in her own particular way. Some good amount of dialogues of this path focus on understanding more this facet of Lilly. How she perceives dreams or colors, or how does she manage tasks that would seem impossible at first sight (no pun intended). Even though not being a hindrance on her daily life, her blindness is responsible for the path she's been forced to walk through life, so understanding it will give you more insight of her personality and how to act accordingly to meet up to her expectations.

Now you know who's the man of this relationship.

Those who twist the knife better
Other characters, despite continously present, play a completely secondary role on this story, as their presence is only focused to understand more about Lilly, maybe with the exception of Hanako, that once notices that you will be taking Lilly from her side will have brave the scary world outside.

On the beggining of the story Hanako will be around for most of the time as a silent companion. Over time, though, with Lilly and Hisao's help she will learn to detach and take her first steps to regaining confidence in people, and despite the motives of her sadness are just presented briefly in this path, you will feel this outcome is better for her, giving her a recovered control on her life.  So if you like Hanako you have a good reason to go through Lilly's path.

The always funny Akira will be a recurrent character that will help you learn more from her sister (and will trigger her adiction to wine (XD)). She will give you insights on Lily's thoughts and worries and sometimes uncover handy information about Lillys past and future, as well as serve as a link with Lilly's family: a shadow cast in the background of the story with a lot of things to say about the future of the couple.

Luckily for you Akira is cool with you doing her little sister...

Overall this feels like THE natural conclusion to Katawa Shoujo. I've even heard form some people that this ending was supposed to be cannon. Wheter you believe it or not is up to you, but certainly is the one that feels like the better conclusion, tying many of the stories toguether for a grand finale.