>> Saturday, June 25, 2011
Seriously, this is the last part of the review. Like as not, anyone who's read this is going, "whew!" but I've loved gushing. I also have to tell you, I just watched the whole anime again and I'm about to reread the manga. So, I'm hooked. Good and hooked.
Bottom line: good addictive anime, if not as pretty as some, and with an incomplete ending. 25 total episodes.
This is the first time I've had a post that just focused on the anime instead talking about the manga with the anime as an afterthought. It's ironic because the story's basically the same as the manga. No, it is the same as the manga, which isn't always the case with anime, although there's usually at least a common thread. In animes, which frequently come to an end while the manga's still going strong, an interim end (one that frequently foreshadows the ending some long distance away) is devised so, in particular, the last few episodes of the anime tend to vary the most from the original manga. Unfortunately, this did not happen here, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Most of the anime I've purchased have been released in the US with dubbed dialogue and I've been almost universally pleased with the caliber of the English speaking voices involved (Tamaki [Vic Mignogna] and Kyoya [J. Michael Tatum] are particular favorites from Ouran High School Host Club). Skip Beat! (the anime) is not licensed in the US and is not dubbed but subtitled. I watched it anyway, became hooked, and found it on-line for purchasing from Japan, theoretically. Since I'm learning Japanese anyway (also another story), I'm buying some subtitled anime in Japanese now.
One advantage to hearing it in the original language is that it has a different feel to it. The Japanese actors seem less inhibited and tend to be more, er, exuberant in how they express themselves. True, this is an exuberant anime (and manga), but even so. I've found myself duly impressed with the Japanese talents in this anime, not only with the expressiveness of the voices, but the versatility shown by the voice actors, particularly the one playing Kyoko (Marina Inoue) who must not only fake a deeper male sounding voice, but voice the grudge Kyokos and a huge range of extreme emotions effectively. That she does so well enough one can readily determine her emotions (even in another language) says a great deal about her talent. Almost as versatile is Mamuru Mayano who does the voice of Sho, who must be, at turns, seductive and snotty and nearly as volatile and childish as Kyoko at times.
I'm also quite fond of Ren's (Katsuyuki Konishi) relatively mellow and mature voice, which doesn't require as much versatility, but does provide a fine contrast. Lory (Kouji Ishii) has a beautiful deep voice that is just a pleasure to listen to.
Since we're talking sound, I've also got to mention the music. There are two different opening themes and two different closing themes. I have to admit that I like all of them very much except for the second opening theme. I like them enough, in fact, I usually listen rather than skip them, even when I'm watching episode after episode. There's also a song done by Sho in Episode 18 that, though only pieces of the complete song play, I really really liked. I wouldn't have minded having the whole damn thing, but they never played it as a whole. I wonder if it had been made available in Japan.
For the most part, the artwork follows along with that of the manga and is along the same lines, but with a simplification that is occasionally irksome. Sadly, the one who suffers by this the most is Ren. Sho, though the defacto "villain," comes across well and still looks good in most of his fashionable and/or outlandish clothing. Damn good even. Kyoko does equally well. But Ren. Poor Ren. The issues in the manga I've noted are far more pronounced in the anime, with his face looking even more distorted simplified in thick lines and a nose that looks much like a predatory bird's. His fashionable wardrobe from the manga is inexplicably exchanged with far less appealing garb that hangs gracelessly on his large frame, which is a pity because that was one of the strengths of the manga artwork. Ren was largely lost in the translation, artwise.
However, the anime has a wonderful color palatte and a great deal of charm, taking advantage of the many manga sight gags along the way and being amazing true to the original manga. Given the caliber of the original manga, that's saying something.
In particular, I love the episodes involving the shooting of Fuwa Sho's music video where Kyoko is hired as an angel to kill him. The costuming is as glorious as the manga's (the same, actually, but losing nothing with the addition of color and movement) and the arguments and interaction of the two most versatile voices a joy, well worth watching over and over. And, as I mentioned, there's the really cool song. If Kyoko's faking the attitudes of an air-headed Sho fan wasn't amusing enough, Sho's reaction to one of Kyoko's many transformations into gorgeousness is more than worth the time. Not to mention their arguments over whether he should feel responsible that Kyoko went through her childhood without friends because of Sho's vindictive admirers. What fun.
It's fun. It's frenetic. It's compelling (even Ren though that's more due to the script and the voice acting than the animation). In fact, I loved it, though I would have loved it a good deal more if it had ended differently or, better yet, hadn't ended. I'd mentioned most animes make a point of bringing some sort of resolution to the story before fading out. It seems pretty clear to me that this anime was intended to included, at least, another one or two episodes, perhaps even another season because it came to an abrupt end just before a climactic part of a story arc. True, I know how it ends (since it's the same in the manga) but how incredibly frustrating! And with the manga now a good eighteen volumes beyond the end point of the anime, a second season with more adventures of this entertaining group would be welcomed at least by me. There's certainly plenty of material to work with (and we'd get to include Reino!).
Since it aired 2008 and 2009, the odds of a second season are probably slim to none, but a gal could dream. If not for the ending and the way Ren was animated, this would be one of my all-time favorite animes, even without being able to understand the language. Yet.