Pain shot through her eyes and head as she started to regain consciousness.
Urrg… my head… my head….
She lay flat on her back for a few minutes waiting for the pain to subside and to regain feeling in her body. She rolled over onto her stomach and slowly pushed herself up. Sitting upright, her head felt heavy and her vision was swimming about.
I’m in that dream again…
The sky looked as if thick black smoke had blended into a blood red background, leaving it black with a tinge of red spread through it. She felt unsettled watching the red and black swirl and mix together in the sky. There were faint sounds of… something drifting across the mirror like water surface surrounding her. Every now and then, a raised voice would wash over her like a gentle pulse of air, but the words were undistinguishable.
She finally got up onto her feet, feeling a little unsteady for a few moments. The feeling of smooth silk sliding against her body drew her attention to what she was wearing. Instead of the rough temple clothing she regularly wore, she was wearing a fine orange silken dress. The dress was embroidered with a minimalist representation of a scene depicting a bird of fire flying over mountain peaks protruding from clouds. The thread used for the embroidery constantly shifted slightly in colour, and even at times seemed to give off light. The hems were finished off with a strange golden metal which seems to be as flexible as the fabric itself, and gave tinges of green and blue when viewed at from different angles. She had wearing around her neck a golden medallion stamped with a mysterious yet familiar symbol.
Instead of feeling alarmed at her sudden change in apparel, she felt comfortable in them as if the clothes she was currently wearing were something she had worn her whole life. She walked over to the water’s edge, and noticed that the cobblestone road dipped slightly below the water line, rather than end abruptly like in her previous dream. The path seemed to extend about an ankles depth for as far as she could see.
She casually waded into the water, making no effort to keep the bottom of her dress dry. Small waves propagated out from around her feet, disturbing the mirror like water surface.
She walked for what seems like hours, slightly hypnotised by the feint voices and the sound of water splashing about her ankles. The submerged path she was walking on looked as if it was leading her towards a golden glow on the horizon, but no matter how long she walked for, it did not seem like she had covered any ground.
Her head started feeling heavy and her eyelids started to droop. Her stomach turned over as hopelessness started taking over. Overcome with weariness, she fell to her knees and let her head slump. Tears streaked down here face as she cradled her head in her hands.
“WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!” she screamed into the sky.
She held her breath for a moment, half expecting a response, but nothing happened.
Exhausted, she leant forward onto all four limbs and looked down at the water. A weary face looked back at her, its eyes a piercing glowing red. Her stomach churned over and fear gripped her heart. Her thoughts immediately turned to the dream she had the previous night.
Please, not again!
She threw herself backwards away from her reflection, falling onto her back in a large splash of water before shuffling backwards a bit, as if trying to escape something trying to chase her.
A few moments passed before her breathing started to ease.
“Why are you following me?!” she moaned under her breath.
No reply came. Her eyes and head felt heavy. Her exhaustion was eating away at her consciousness.
“Why do you bring me here?” she half-heartedly asked her surroundings.
“For you to remember who you are” a familiar, kind female voice said softly.
Floating in the water on her back, it took a few seconds for the words to sink in. Realising that she had finally gotten a response out of the emptiness around her, she sat up… then froze.
Where there was nothing before but an endless horizon, a set of heavy wooden doors illuminated by 2 blue fire torches filled her entire vision. A floating sensation overcame her and her vision wavered and blurred. As she started to settle down, a gut wrenching fear gripped her at the core, causing her breathing to be erratic and her limbs feel weak.
She looked around and saw that she was no longer surrounded by an endless stretch of water. The sky was dark and cloudy, and a thick heavy mist blanketed the area, making it hard to see past a few meters. She was sitting back on a granite path which lead off into the mist. She could see dull blue glows through the mist which were evenly spaced along the path. For some reason, she knew that those glows were lanterns lined up along the path, and that the path lead out to one of the fortress’ walls. She also knew that along either sides of the path grew large majestic maple, cherry blossom and pine trees, though none could be seen through the darkness and haze.
A creepy chill came over her which caused her to start shivering. She noticed that the lamps were beginning to dull even more, and the lamps further out were extinguishing one by one. Her limbs felt like lead but she forced them to bang on the door in front of her.
THUD… Thud…. Thud…..
She was quickly loosing energy whilst fear and panic were chocking her from within. The sounds of footsteps echoed down the path through the darkness. Exhausted and frozen with fear, she turned around and leant against the door, giving up on getting in and mustering the courage to try fight off whatever it was coming down the path. She slowly stood up, her shaking legs nearly giving way a few times before she was completely upright. She clenched her fists as hard as she could and felt a sharp pain in her right hand. She opened her right hand to find herself clutching a small red diamond rose necklace. Some of her blood stained its delicate golden leaves, but traces of deeper blood stains could be seen. The sight of the necklace brought back a memory of a girl sprawled out on the ground, her lifeless body covered in small cuts and grazes and her blank gaze staring unwaveringly into the sky.
He killed her! He killed Ji Na! That MONSTER!
A surge of heat flowed through her body, her rage manifesting as wild uncontrolled energy causing the air around her to violently stir up, picking up small stones and leaves off the ground and hurling them in random directions.
She screamed in rage, inadvertently firing a pulse of compressed air down the pathway, extinguishing all the lamps in pairs as it travelled. Absolute darkness engulfed her as the last of the lanterns were blown out. No longer feeling the heat in her body, the chilling fear returned causing her to lose the last of her strength. She fell against the doors and slumped to the ground. Tired, exhausted, cold and petrified, she could do nothing but stare blankly into the darkness.
“My my my…” a voice mocked in the distance. “Heck of a punch for someone as young as you”
The footsteps were getting closer and closer.
“Such a waste having to kill such potential. But I can’t allow you to mature. Your existence is a threat to us. Too long has the fires of heaven controlled this country. It’s time for a new age! One not bound by the decrepit decrees of your family. One where we are all truly free to choose our own destinies, pave our own paths. For that, you must die here, tonight.”
She could tell that the killer was close now. Her breathing started getting more and more ragged as her mind went blank with fear. Tears streamed down her face, the realisation that she might actually die finally starting to dawn on her.
Mom… Dad… help…..
“No one’s coming to save you. Stop resisting, and I’ll show you mercy”
Completely disheartened, she could no longer find the energy to keep herself alert. Her heavy eyelids drooped and eventually closed. Time seemed to slow down, the echoes of the assailants footsteps grew longer and further apart. Her mind started disconnecting from her body, her limbs numb and heavy.
In her feint consciousness, she could feel the breath of her assailant against her face. A sharp pain stung her neck but she couldn’t muster the energy to escape it. She tried to cry out in pain, but all she managed was a groan. She was paralysed; her body was being drained of all its warmth and energy.
She gasped in shock as the door propping her up fell away behind her. In an instant, her eyes flew open to see a huge ceiling of rolling blue fire roar over her head and explode on her assailant in a multitude of colours. Before she could comprehend what was happening, she was hastily picked up and rushed through the doorway. Her head hung backwards unsupported, her state of delirium preventing her from consciously controlling her own body. The world she could see was upside down and blurry. Cursing and shouting emanated from beyond the wall as well as shock waves from the ensuing spell battle.
Lanterns, trees and rock features sped past her in a blur. Her vision started to fade out, eventually leaving her in complete darkness. She could however still feel the bone jarring steps taken by her rescuer. She lost track of time as the repetitive jolting and her fading energy pushed her closer and closer to unconsciousness.
“Yoora! Yoora! Wake up! Wake UP!” a panicked female voice sounded in the darkness. She noticed that the jolting had stopped. She tried to move, but her entire body was cold and numb. She was so weak that she couldn’t even blink, let alone respond.
“Elder! The Earth clan’s leader is demanding your presence in the main hall!” a panicked voice cried.
“SILENCE!” a deep authoritative voice boomed. “Yoona my angel, wake up” the same voice sounded again, but almost whispered. She could feel warmth spreading throughout her body, and her energy was slowly being built back up.
A face slowly faded into view as she started regaining sight. She body erupted into pain, pins and needles jabbing here everywhere. As suddenly as the pain erupted, it subsided. Realising that she had regained her sense of touch, and could move again, she reached up at the blurred face in front of her. She knew from the voice that the face was her father, but her blurred vision meant that she couldn’t make out the features of his face.
She felt her hand enveloped by another large, warm and reassuring hand. Without warning, her father hugged tightly, drawing her into his chest. Hot tears streamed down from his face as he mumbled
“I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry”.
Her father embraced her for some time before releasing her.
“Yoona. You must live. You are the jewel of my life, and the hope of this nation”, her father said.
Picking her up, he placed her in the arms of someone she couldn’t see. Still unable to see properly or move properly, she struggled to keep her attention on her father.
“This is your birthday present. My gift to you.” Her father said softly.
With a sweeping movement of his arm, a sword materialised into his grasp, which he set down. He drew closer and stopped right in front of her. He propped up her head by the chin, and recited
“I, keeper of the Grand Library, Guardian of the Spirit World and Head of the Fire Clan, bestow upon you the means, the key and the spirit to guard the teachings of old, ferry lost souls to find peace and rule in the stead of your predecessors”.
He leant forward and kissed her on her forehead.
He continued, “I give to you the seed of the heavens. May you nurture and grow this seed, so that you may protect those you treasure most, now and for eternity”.
He leant forward and kissed her on the forehead again, but unlike the previous kiss, her body felt as if it was burning up. Amongst all the energy surging through her body, she felt her mind open up and expand as if no longer confined to the limits of her physical body. She could vaguely feel the emotions of the people around her. She was reading overwhelming sadness and anger from those around her, and a huge amount of regret and possibly pride from her father. Despite the depressing atmosphere, she couldn’t help but feel elated.
The sensation slowly died down leaving her feeling a bit more grounded and subdued by the atmosphere. She looked up only to catch her father turning away. He paused, looked over his shoulder at her and said
“Live Yoora, live…”.
He Scooped up the sword that he placed on the ground then turned to face the few dozen warriors standing in formation a few meters away.
“My warriors! The council of elders has betrayed us and the people of this nation. We were weary, but in the end, my failure has lead to use being caught off guard and on the verge of being annihilated. I have failed you all.”
He paused for a moment, letting complete silence set in on the room.
“I do not ask your forgiveness for my short comings, but I do have to ask you to forgive me for what I’m about to do, and what I’m about to ask of you all.”
Yoora could sense that the soldiers were starting to feel uneasy. They were all ready and willing to die for their leader, yet they were about to be asked something which seemed above and beyond the sacrifice of their lives.
“In a few moments, I shall face the council alone. I command all of you to flee this place and hide yourselves. Preserve the ways of our clan until we are ready to re-instate our position once again.”
Everyone in the room remained silent and unmoving.
“GO!” her father Roared.
At first, there was a bit of hesitation, but then a flurry of movement started as the people in the room started running out, taking different corridors to each other in order to escape the palace. She lost sight of her father in the chaos. She tried to make it through the moving mass of people but was picked up by one of the soldiers and carried out of the palace, never to see anyone in her family again.
A sharp tingle down her spine jolted her into consciousness. Within moments, she was acutely aware of her surroundings, despite not having opened her eyes yet. She was lying in her bed, listening intensely to her surroundings for the source of the alarm. She could hear birds outside fluttering about, tweeting and chirping at each other. She could faintly hear the sound of running water from the stream nearby feeding off into the Hanul falls. The smell of burnt out candles filled the air around her. There was no wind as she could not hear the whistling of air rushing between the jagged rock peaks, or the bristling of branches of the old oak tree. She lay silently still for a few minutes, feigning sleep. After a while, she slowly opened her eyes, focussing her attention on what little she could see around her. The lighting was dim with the only source of light the faintly backlit paper screen doors separating her room with the main corridor of the building. The room itself was scarcely furnished, with only a small polished wooden table adorned with a few old books and a candle stand sitting up against a wall with a drawer cabinet sitting next to it.
After scanning the room for anything which might have caused her to wake, she slid out from under her blanket carefully as to not disturb or deform how the blanket lay. Confident that she was not in any immediate danger, she pulled over her head the cotton night gown she was wearing and walked over to the drawers, pulling out a change of clothes.
What was that dream last night…
Her heart started drumming insider her chest and her stomach turned over as she started recollecting the dream.
She quickly changed into her usual temple clothing and quietly slid open the door. The hallway was well let due to the doors at either end allowing the sunlight to flood in. The well-polished oak wood floors helped carry the light through the corridor. She softly walked down the hallway towards one of the doors, shielding her eyes from the bright sunlight as she emerged from the building.
Feeling her hunger all of a sudden, she made her way to a set of trapdoors positioned on the back of the living quarters. Grabbing hold of one of the handles, the door opened silently, revealing a set of steep, uneven stairs leading down into a cellar. With practiced efficiency, she skipped down the stairs 2 at a time, landing gracefully at the bottom despite the cellar being almost pitch black. Her eyes quickly adjusted for the lack of light, allowing her to see through the darkness. There were several sacks of rice piled up in the corner of the cellar, with a few open crates of potatoes and other herbal ingredients placed along the wall opposite the stairs. She picked up an empty sack which was lying on the floor to her right and walked over to one of the crates. She saw a folded piece of paper sitting on top of the contents of the crate.
‘Meet me at the Sunrise Peak’ the note read.
She folded the note back up and placed it in one of her pockets, and proceeded to fill her sack with rice and chestnuts. With her cooking materials in order, she quickly climbed the stairs and gently closed the door. She collected up a pot and quickly cooked herself a simple meal.
The Sunrise Peak… why there? Yoora thought as she cleaned up the pot and put it away.
It was mid-morning by the time she stepped out of the temple grounds and started climbing the steep rocky mountain face towards the peak. Having grown up on the mountain slopes, she navigated through the steep and slick terrain with relative ease, ‘hopping’ from one safe footing or ledge to another. The air was cool and sweet with a slight breeze that had picked up, bringing along with it the fragrance of the pine forest below. Large puffs of slowly drifting clouds high up in the sky were softening the harsh glare of the sun.
She stopped about 20 minutes into her travel to rest. Sitting down on a ledge, she let her sight wonder about, taking in the gentle swaying of the forests which lined the valleys to the majestic rock formations lining the ridges of the mountain tops. Small birds were playing between the branches of the trees and she could see a small heard of mountain deer working their way through the slopes of the opposing mountain. She tilted her head back slightly, resting it on the cliff-face behind her and closed her eyes, basking in the tranquillity. The day was as peaceful as they come.
She spent about 5 minutes in shallow meditation before she started moving again. The rest of her journey took close to an hour with only a few breaks in between. As she reached the summit of the mountain ridge, the familiar site of the majestic weeping cherry blossom tree began to fill her view. The trees trunk had a massive girth, possibly wider than her temples Do Jang and had a multitude of smaller elegant branches covered in pink and white blossoms, swaying back and forth gently in the breeze. It seems as if it were snowing pink snowflakes with the wind dislodging loose blossoms, blanketing the ground below with a soft carpet of colour. At the base of the tree stood a ‘wondumak’, a small wooden hut with an intricately tiled black roof raised slightly on a base of rough grey granite. The wood was polished and waxed, bringing out the deep colours and grains of the oak timber used.
As she got closer, she could hear the booming laughter of an unmistakable voice she had just recently encountered. The sound died down, replaced with the soft whistling of the breeze through the tree branches. Approaching the hut, she could see her master and the Headmaster sitting down enjoying some kind of beverage. Tea she guessed, as she could see an earthenware tea-set set out on a small collapsible wooden table. Next to the Headmaster was a stack of thin dark wooden boxes, each of them intricately and uniquely decorated with ‘mother of pearl’ paint and enamel.
Pausing for a moment, she mustered up her courage to continue on, challenging herself to turn her fear of people into a test of how self-controlled she had become. She started placing her feet down carefully, selecting areas where there we no loose rock which might give away her approach. She figured she may as well practice stealth movement on someone new, as she had reached the point where her master could no longer detect her without magic if she chose to remain hidden. Timing her movements with the wind and bristling of the tree branches, she made it to the small set of stairs leading up to the raised floor of the wondumak. The two men were oblivious to her presence.
Slipping off her shoes, she sat down between and just behind the two men who were looking out towards the tree. Silently and swiftly, she pick up one of the small earthenware cups, making sure she didn’t accidentally knock the cup into anything else, and poured herself a cup of the green tea that was prepared. Carefully placing the teapot back on the table, she brought the cup to her lips and noisily slurped in a sip of the tea. The reaction from Jumong was as she expected, his body flinched with surprise and quickly spun his head around with an astonished look on his face. She almost had time to laugh. Almost.
The hulking arm of the Headmaster swung around towards her with such ferocious speed that she had no time to think. Her body automatically arched over backwards in order avoid collision with the speeding trunk of muscle, watching it speed over her in almost slow motion cm’s above her nose all whilst keeping her cup perfectly still as not to spill anything. Tingles were sent down her spine as she felt the pressure wave created by the attack.
Whoa! That could have killed me! She realised.
She slowly sat back upright and attempted to take a sip of her tea though her shaking hands. Adrenaline was surging through her body causing her heart to hammer in her chest.
“WHOA! That was close! You surprised me!” laughed the Headmaster. “Good thing that old geezer trained you up well!”
“Ai yai yai…” Jumong sighed as he started cleaning up the tea off his clothes that he had dropped “You know you shouldn’t try to kill potential students as you interview them, it’s a bad business model”
“Ha ha ha…” The headmaster looked over toward Yoora with a sheepish smile on his face “Sorry about that!”
Doing her best to keep a calm demeanour about her, she replied “Ah… That’s ok…”
Both men let out hefty sighs and proceeded to finish off the pot of tea in silence. The mood had somehow suddenly turned from happy and light hearted into something more sombre and serious.
“You must be wondering why we called you up here” started Jumong. He sat staring out toward the cherry blossom as he spoke.
“It’s been 6 years since I brought you here and well, you were something else out of this world then…” his voice trailed off slightly towards the end of that sentence but then regained composure and continued
“I swore to myself that I would protect and guide you to lead a normal life. You trusted no-one, tried to kill me more times than I can count but I never gave up on you.”
Yoora felt her face get hot with embarrassment. She turned her gaze to the cup she was holding near her laps in order to avoid eye contact with either of the two men.
“I’ve taught you all that I know, and guided you as far as I can take you. This place will always welcome you home, but the world is out there for your taking.”
Jumong held out his hand, catching a cherry blossom petal in palm and started making it dance around in the air.
“The world is beautiful Yoora. There are lakes that look crystals kilometres wide, forests which stretch on as far as the eye can see, islands that float in the sky, waterfalls which fall endlessly, and millions upon billions of plants, animals, insects and spirits, each unique and full of mystery. So much to see, feel, smell, learn. You can’t experience all that here. It’s time you set forward into your future. You belong out in the world, not cooped up in the far edges of existence with an old geezer like me”
Silence befell the wondumak. Only the soft sounds of the wind could be heard. Her stomach started to tighten up and her heart started racing. Her throat felt constricted as she realised that she was being told that her time here was coming to an end. The days of peace and security away from other people would come to an end. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to face the world. She had read in the text books that there existed cities with millions of people packed tightly together, vastly different to the 30-40 people villages in the mountains she had encountered. She had only barely held her nerve in those villages.
Before she realised, her eyes had watered up and tears were streaming down her cheeks.
“I…. I” she stammered. Her throat was so tight and her breaths shallow that she struggled to say anything.
“Yoora, this is where I can help” the headmaster said.
He placed one of the wooden boxes he had in front of her. With 2 swipes of his fingers across the front edge of the box, the two golden latches slowly melted into the box’s artwork giving it a golden tinge.
It took her a moment to regain her composure enough to focus on the box.
“Open it” the headmaster gently instructed.
She looked over to Jumong, who gave her a reassuring nod.
She gingerly and slowly opened the box. Inside the box was lined with red padded felt, and the box itself was separated into halves width ways. The bottom half contained small glass vials of a dark brown almost black liquid and were capped off with golden lids finely engraved with all sorts of animals. The top part had what looked like to be a polished plain black lid covering whatever was contained there. Upon further inspection, she could see the lid had extremely small and fine grooves winding their way around the surface in no discernible pattern.
“Those tonics can supress your powers and outburst. What’s under that lid is a test. It will test you to see if you’re ready. It’s also the entrance examination for my academy.”
“Can it really help me?” Yoora asked.
“It will help you if you’re willing to help yourself” he replied.
She looked down at the box in her hands.
This may be able to change me. Can I really put my past behind me with this?
She took several deep breaths to steel her resolve. She looked up to the headmaster and asked
“How do I take the test?”
The headmaster beckoned towards Jumong.
Turning her attention to her master, Jumong’s face seemed to relax into a pure smile. He reached into his robes and drew out a small sheathed dagger. The dagger’s handle and sheath where both polished black with green vines and pure white flowers snaking their way around both the handle and sheath. The decorations were done in ‘mother of pearl’ enamel paint, giving off the slight illusion that the colour in the vines and flowers were changing and moving about as the light struck at different angles.
He reached out and placed the dagger on the table in front of Yoora.
“It takes a blood toll to start the test” the headmaster said. “Just the tip of your finger should do”
She picked up the dagger and slowly unsheathed it, revealing a well-polished silver blade which reflected hints of red and gold. She stared at the blade for a bit, unsure what to do before realising what ‘blood toll’ meant.
Holding the dagger firmly in her left hand, the tip of the blade quivered near her right thumb as nervousness took hold of her.
“What happens?” she asked, slightly motioning towards the box.
“Nobody can tell you what the test is. It’s different for each person.” Jumong explained. “The magic used for the test is not from our time, though nobody has ever been hurt by the test.”
Yoora took a deep breath and pushed all doubt from her mind. She somehow felt deep down inside that moving on from the comfort of the mountains was something that was meant to pass, and the opportunity was sitting right in front of her now.
Blood slowly welled up around the edges of the blade as the dagger tip pierced the skin. She put the dagger down and placed her thumb on the lid. Nothing happened. She attempted to pull her finger away, but it felt like it had been glued to the black surface. The tried again, but she could not pull her finger off. The spot under the thumb began to get warm, and small bright orange lines started snaking around the lid, originating from her thumb. The lid started to get burning hot as the lines drew out a bird. She could not look away from the lid. The pain from the heat was beginning to fade as she started losing awareness of the world around her. Her whole focus was the heavenly bird of fire, the Phoenix, which seemed to be looking right at her.
The world around her had slowly faded away to nothingness, and the only things left were herself, the box and the Phoenix. The bird was growing in size as the orange lines left the box and started forming in mid-air. The box itself eventually faded from existence as the Phoenix stretched its wings and started flying about, leaving a trail of magical embers and specks of gold. It fluttered about her head before suddenly flaring up into a giant ball of golden/red flames, engulfing her in a mesmerising display of patterns. She felt secure for the first time in conscious memory enveloped in the fire. The flames were not hot; rather she felt the warmth deep inside her, a mysterious feeling of comfort and relaxation.
The tattoo on her right hand was glowing softly with same hue of gold as the flames around her. She felt weightless and joyful. She felt as if some powerful and benign force was taking control of her, but she did not care. Suddenly, the world brightened up and the flames dispersed. She found herself flying through the sky high above the clouds. The clouds themselves were thick and dense, forming a carpet of fluffy white as far as she could see. She felt exultant as the sound of air rushing by filled her mind, and the sun was shining brightly above her. For the first time in her life, she felt free and un-afraid. She yelled out in joy, and to her surprise, let out a high pitch screech. Confused, she look around and noticed instead of arms, she had beautiful fiery wings. She looked down at her body and saw that instead of her legs, there were 2 powerful talons tucked into her fiery red/gold feathers.
Despite discovering that she was not human, it felt completely natural. She tumbled and soared through the air, screeching in joy. Nothing was ever going to get in her way.
So, after watching more anime than deemed healthy for a normal person, I feel i qualify to give assistance in finding new anime titles to watch.
This post will focus on short reviews for the various DRAMA/ROMANCE anime I have watched. I’m not going to go into detail on the studio’s behind the titles or the directors history. Quite frankly, those factors don’t matter to me. A good anime is a good anime in my eyes, regardless of which studio made it or who directed it. I’ll focus on the factors of the anime stood out to me and what made it enjoyable (or not).
BTW, my full anime list: http://myanimelist.net/profile/Botagar
Note: these are separate from Romance Comedy (Rom-Com). I’ll cover those in a different Post.
Note 2: I’ll be keeping screen-caps to episodes 1 for each series. Screen-caps of later episodes may spoil plots.
Note 3: Full synopsis’ are available on the My Anime List. Click the “MAL Link” for the anime you are interested in.
5 Centimeters per Second (Byousoku 5 Centimeter)
Runtime: 1 Hour 2 Minutes
Genres: Romance. Drama
5 Centimeters per second is a very serious, emotion touching anime movie. It has 3 ‘arcs’ spanning over the hour, each of them following the life of Takaki Tōno and the distances between those he loves.
The artwork is beautifully done, and the attention to the overall scene and mood really make this anime stand out. BGM (background music) is well placed and adds to the moods the director is trying to create.
I would recommend this anime movie to those who like serious drama/love plots and those who just love anime with excellent art and scenes.
I would be wary of slow plot developments and some arcs feeling like they are unfinished.
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Romance. Drama, Supernatural, Slice of Life
Air is an anime which starts off rather lighthearted and comical. The protagonist, Kunisaki Yukito, is a puppeteer who is searching for a winged girl who fly’s through the air. He arrives at peaceful seaside town where he quickly meets the main heroine of the story, Misuzu Kamio, a lively high school girl who’s extremely clumsy and quite peculiar with some of her habits (Ga-Gao~). As he learns more about Misuzu and the town, things take a dramatical turn, shaking characters and viewer alike.
Visually, the anime is superb, with stunning backgrounds, effects and well drawn characters. Pictures are clear and the attention to detail in the animations and settings are good. The only downside i would pick on would be some of the characters eyes are far too out of proportion to their heads. The effect they were going for was cuteness but sometimes, too large make them seem childish and unfitting for the roles they play. Thats a minor nitpick though…
Sound wise, Air keeps the standards high, with background music good enough to listen to on the own over and over again. The BGM is well placed to supplement the moods created by the visuals. If you’re not convinced, try this: Air OST – Summer Lights
Overall, i say this is a must watch for anyone interested in Drama/Romance anime.
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Romance. Drama, Action, Comedy, Supernatural
Angel beats is a dynamic anime, bringing forward to the audience comedy, action, drama and a touch of romance… all in 13 episodes!
It starts off with Otonashi, a recently deceased highschool male who has lost his memories, waking up in the after world next to a sniper rifle wielding highschool girl named Yuri. Yuri is the leader of a resistance group called the SSS which fights against the angel in order to protect their existence. Hilarity ensures as Otonashi meets all the members of the resistance group, but the laughs don’t last for long as certain events force the members of the SSS to face their regrets from the previous life.
Visually the anime is animation eye candy with action sequences animated superbly. There isn’t really all that much in terms of expansive scenery shots, but each scene is drawn effectively and well.
Sound wise, you will be surprised as the anime features concerts with really good rock songs. The opening song, ending song and BGM all enhance the mood the anime tries to get across to us audience.
There are some awesome characters in this show, each with their own touching backstory about how they came to be who they are.
Unfortunately, this show is not without its flaws, and it stems mostly from being limited to 13 episodes. Trying to fit a relatively complicated plot into such a short span of time causes a few pacing issues, and the ending might come off a bit sudden. Also a few characters get breezed over due to time constraints.
Having said that, this anime is still one of my personal favorites, with quite the memorable and touching ending.
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai
Runtime: 22 minutes per episode
Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, a tad Supernatural
WOW! What a mouthful of a name… calling it Ano Hana from now on!
As little kids, Jinta led his group of 5 friends, nicknamed the “Super Peace Busters” through adventures and fun times. One day, ‘Menma’ (Honma Meiko) calls the group together at their usual hidout, an unused shed hidden in the mountains. The events that transpire from that moment onwards shake the friends to their core.
7 years after Menma’s fatal accident, her ghost suddenly appears around Jinta, causing old memories the group of friends tried to leave behind to resurface, and forces each of the members of the “Super Peace Busters” to face their own demons spawned from the incident.
The visuals for this anime work quite well, with animation quality being decent. Background and scenes are nothing to be blown away by, but they do set up the feel for the anime nicely.
Where this anime shines in my opinion is the story, characters and music. The Opening and Ending sequences don’t break the flow of the anime like Clannad After Story’s Ending, and i found myself constantly listening to the Ending song after each episode. Each character in the show has quite a bit of backstory, and the only crux this anime might have is that its only 11 episodes, causing some of the characters to be rushed over.
The story itself is centered around the ghost Menma, and is quite melodramatic and touching. The ending of the series is one which can leave you in tears, if you already haven’t used them all during some of the previous episodes.
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Romance, Supernatural, Awesome…
Araragi Koyomi, an ex vampire and high school student catches a falling female school student on his way to class only to find her weightless, to his surprise. Senjogahara Hitagi threatens Araragi with torture unless he keeps his mouth shut about her condition, where in turn he introduces her to Oshino Meme, a mysterious man with the ability to help her. Both their lives change forever as they find themselves getting more and more involved in the world of the supernatural.
The first thing that needs to be noted about this anime is that it is a very dialogue heavy anime. If you’re looking for tear jerkers, moe or just something that doesn’t require thinking, this is not your anime. If however you are willing to give this oddity of an anime a go, you will not regret it.
Visually the anime is unique compared to most other anime out there. The art style may feel weird for some, but the scenes and rapidly injected slides of text and color in conjunction with the rapid and witty dialogue makes this anime a unique experience. This show doesn’t have an overabundance of characters, but the characters it does have are unique and quirky in their own way. Story wise, it’s based more on mini story arcs, with the Senjogahara/Araragi romance development tying everything together.
This series is something everyone should at least try watching. Its unique and very very witty. You might find yourself rapidly pausing the anime though to try read some of that rapidly flashing text.
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Romance, School
Bokura ga Ita
Runtime: 25 minutes per episode
Genres: Romance, Drama, Slice of Life
soft protag voice, pastal coloured art. nice bgm.
Fortune Arterial: Akai Yakusoku
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Romance, School, Slice of Life, Vampire
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Slice of Life
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Drama, Romance, Supernatural, Slice of Life
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Drama, Comedy, Fantasy
Otome Youkai Zakuro
Runtime: 24 minutes per episode
Genres: Drama, Romance, Supernatural, Spirits/Demons
Runtime: 12 minutes per episode
Genres: Drama, Romance, Comedy
Red. Black. Blue.
Yoora could only see swirls of those 3 colours through her partly open eyelids. Her head and body felt heavy and numb. She couldn’t move a muscle, though she was aware that she was lying on her back. All she could do was stare at the hypnotic mixture of colours above her. A few minutes passed before she could do as much as open her eyes and start to feel for her fingers and toes. Regaining senses in her arms and legs, she felt the ground around her for any clues to where she might be.
Hard… stone floor?
Her fingers traced out rectangles by following grooves and edges she felt.
No. Bricks? Urg… my head hurts…. Where am i? What’s going on…?
She still couldn’t move her body fully, but she was able to roll her head sidewards. The view was a vast stretch of mirror smooth water, right out to the horizon. The horizon itself was almost impossible to distinguish as the water took on the appearance of the swirling sky above, blurring the boundary between the two.
An undefined amount of time passed before she felt that she was strong enough to start moving again. She sat up and propped herself up on one arm, waiting for sudden dizziness to disperse as the blood rushed down from her head. Now feeling though as she could move freely again, she looked around checking her surroundings. Behind her the rough marble brick road stopped suddenly, falling off around 30cm into the calm water below. In front of her, the same road slowly trailed off into the water. She was effectively stranded on a small island surrounded by a single sheet of mirror smooth water.
Thud thud….. thud thud….. thud thud…..
A wave of giddiness flooded over her, causing her to fall to her knees. Her mind was clouded once again, focusing only on her sudden thumping heartbeats and a strange thirst which bourn itself from her uneasiness.
Water! Water…. Want, NEED water!…
She crawled over to the edge of the road, and plunged her hands into the clear pristine water, scooping up a handful and gulped it down in an instant.
More! Still thirsty….. so thirsty….
She plunged her hands in again and again, drinking water like a parched man on a desert trek. After a few handfuls, she doubled over clenching her stomach, coughing madly.
Urg… I feel sick….
She calmed herself took a few deep breaths. Fear gripped her as she noticed swirls of red in the water where she was drinking. She checked her hands to make sure she wasn’t bleeding then looked back into the water. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The eerie sky was just as eerie reflected off the water; her own reflection was just as she remembered it. Or was it? The more she looked at her own reflection, things seemed a bit off. Her jaw line? No… Her reflection was wearing a smug grin! The image in the water was looking right at her, rather than just being a reflection. The image then smiled at her, exposing 2 sharp pointed teeth, its eyes turning a deep crimson colour which seemed to glow in the dim environment.
Yoora screamed, throwing herself back away from the water, her breathing heavy and erratic.
“Why do you run away?” a voice echoed softly around her. Yoora felt herself being dragged back to the water’s edge by an invisible force. She tried to resist but found herself staring back at the image in the water.
“You’re too cruel on yourself! You’re not that scary…” the voice said, sounding amused.
Unable to look away, think or respond, all Yoora could do was to stare into its eyes; its deep, hypnotic eyes. Without thinking or realising it, she was being drawn slowly closer to the water. Her hair fell ahead of her, spreading out like a fan on the water’s surface. The small ripples caused by her hair distorted the image, breaking the lock the image had on her. Reflexively she threw herself away from the water, nearly choking as she inhaled sharply.
“Why do you deny yourself? I am you. You are me.” The voice sounded again.
“Please! Just stop! Go away…” Yoora replied meakly. “I just want to live normally! Can’t I just relax and have fun?”
A creepy laugh erupted around her, the sound seemingly rolling around her.
“Normal? What’s normal?…” the voice seemed to fade away.
For a moment, everything went dead still and silent. She could hear her own heartbeats and her heavy breathing. Movement in the corner of her vision caught her attention. She quickly looked in the direction of the disturbance to see nothing but ripples disturbing the glassy water. Her stomach started to clench up and her heart started beating even harder. She felt sick with fear and uneasiness. A splash to her right made her flinch. She spun around only to see ripples again propagating along the water. She felt shivers down her spine as she sensed an oncoming hostile aura. No, she felt lots of small aura’s, all hostile but all somehow familiar.
Unknown things kept disturbing the water’s surface. Large splashes erupted from random points in the water. No matter how fast she turned to follow the disruptions, she couldn’t catch a glimpse of what was breaking the surface. She edged herself closer to the water in order to look into the water. It was only then she noticed the edges of the road she was on was crumbling into the water, and the water itself had turned nearly completely black. Suddenly a half decomposed arm thrust out from the water aiming for Yoora’s leg, forcing her to pull her leg back to evade the grab. Another arm thrust out, which she dodged as well. Another. Another. These arms started dragging up dismembered and decomposed torso’s. Skulls with scrawny patches of hair still stuck to their crowns looked up at her with their empty eye sockets. They were closing in on her, like a pack of wolves closing in on their prey. She was slowly running out of space to manoeuvre.
“Come to me” the voice sounded.
A corpse launched itself at Yoora from the water, tackling her to the edge of the island where a dozen hands lay waiting. The sudden impact of being tackled dazed her for a split second. When she regained her composure, she was staring straight into mouldy, semi decomposed face. The corpse still had both its eyes but the eyes were clouded grey and almost pupil less.
“Die… monster…” the corpse rasped whilst throwing both its hands around her neck in an attempt to strangle her. She couldn’t compete with the strength of the corpse. Her eyes were stinging and she was losing focus.
Help me… I don’t want to die…
Suddenly the world around was plunged into darkness as she was dragged underwater by an unseen force. All she could hear was the muffled sound of water rushing past her, or rather her being dragged through the water at a frightening pace. She could see the warped image of herself chasing after her with outstretched hands. Closer and closer it came. It rapped its arms around her and drew itself face to face. The image smiled, a genuine happy smile.
“Finally…” the image whispered intimately.
Locking eyes again, her apparition drew forward and kissed her on the lips. Everything went silent. She felt as if her breath were being sucked out of her. A mix of feelings and thoughts flooded into her as the two Yoora’s consciousness started to connect. Love. Hate. Loathing. Longing. Loneliness. Sadness.
Pain shot through her head as if it were hit with a large rock. Completely dazed and unable to comprehend what was happening, she tried to focus on her surroundings. She could feel the water pulsing, shaking and shocking her down to the bones. Her apparition was drifting away from her, with an apparent look of fear then anger on her face.
CRACK!!! Thud! Thud! Thud thud thud thud…
She tried to scream as pain tore through her body, but was muffled by the water. She felt as if she was being torn apart, being pulled in a thousand different directions.
I don’t want to die!!! Help… help… help……….hel..p…..h………
Her vision was fading, but she noticed a pinprick of light in front of her growing progressively larger. A slow chant faded into her surroundings as the blackness around her turned to a brilliant gold.
Ow… too bright… my eyes hurt…
Suddenly, all forces on her released, and she felt as if she was lying on something solid. Her vision was out of focus, and her body was tingling all over. She tried to sit up, but her body refused to listen to her. Feeling tired and unusually famished, she rolled her head to either side then upwards to see her Master sitting cross legged and stone still with his eyes closed, right above her head.
“What happened?” she attempted to ask, but only managed to let out a moan.
“Sleep now… we’ll talk when you wake up.” Jumong said in a low voice, patting her head as he spoke.
Feeling warm and comfortable from his touch, she immediately fell to sleep.
The first rays of the morning sun reached over the high jagged mountaintops, attempting to penetrate the heavy morning fog blanketing the mountain sides. The air was cold but not harsh and there was a moderately strong breeze flowing through the trees, typical weather for the start of spring. Small patches of hardened snow were glittering in the morning sunlight, like small diamonds encrusted into the scenery. Snow covered pine trees and maples trees covered the mountain sides, only broken up by the handful of streams and small rivers that flowed down and through the mountains and a dozen or so clearings. Giant plumes of slowly rotating fog reaching up hundreds of meters were drawing up the morning fog into the sky.
A pure note of a bamboo flute resonated around the valley, echoing around the mountains. The note led onto another note, which in turn played out into a slow and peaceful melody. Standing at the source of the sound was a girl no older than 14. She had long black hair down to the length of her waist which was blowing around her face in the wind. She was wearing plain black loose sleeved clothing with white and golden lacing around the edges which fluttered around her in the breeze. Feint grey symbols and runes could be seen either embedded or painted onto the black fabric around most of the seams. A dark brown lacquered bamboo flute was held up to her lips by both her hands, letting her sleeves slip down to her elbows, exposing on her right hand a gold tattoo of a legendary bird of fire, a phoenix, with its head facing down her thumb and its tail wrapping around her wrist.
She swayed with the tempo of her music, eyes closed, letting herself get caught in the magic of the song. She was standing in the middle of a rocky outcrop which penetrated out of the dense forest below, as if she was on a stage where the trees in the forest were the audience. Dark shadows were flowing in between the dense trees packed around a rocky outcrop, carefully keeping out of the morning light but helplessly attracted to the source of the sound, like insects to a light. The outcrop was surrounded by a column of fog which lazily spiralled into the sky.
The whole world seemed to have paused to listen to the music, not a living creature stirred. After a few minutes, the song came to an end and the shadows dispersed back into the dense parts of the forest, the parts which almost never see the light of day. The girl opened her jet black eyes to see the sun now fully clear of the horizon. She took a few deep breaths, watching the fog float from her into the now almost non-existent upward spiral of air.
‘Another beautiful morning’ she thought as she gazed into the light, letting the sun illuminate her face.
She tucked the flute away into a fold in her shirt and started making her way down a small animal trial leading up the side of the majestic granite mountain. She climbed the trail for about 45 minutes before reaching a small temple, her home since she was brought here 6 years ago.
The temple consisted of 3 buildings; A prayer hall, a Do Jang (tr: school/place of training), and a living quarters, the latter being the smaller of the 3 buildings. The buildings were arranged so they all faced into a stone floored courtyard with a single old oak tree seemingly growing out of the rock. Its knotted branches seemed to struggle to reach for the sky, attempting to find sunlight that the steep mountainside deprives it off.
Just next to the tree in the center of the courtyard was an old monk garbed in grey robes. A polished steel sword glittered as it swung in great arcs, wielded by the monk as if he was fighting and invisible foe. His eyes were closed and his face wore a calm and collected look. His movements were athletic but graceful despite looking over 60 years old. The girl passed under the old wooden gateway into the courtyard, bowing slightly as she walked through.
“I am back master” she said. The monk stopped.
“Mmm… welcome back” he replied. Pointing at a pile of sacks and bags stacked beside the living quarters, he said “The villagers brought food again. They wouldn’t stop thanking me for your work.”
Without taking much notice of the food, the girl walked over to a small stone water fountain and splashed some water on her face. Feeling refreshed, she walked towards the stack of food and picked up a bag containing some green vegetables and a heap of potatoes.
“I’ll make us breakfast now” she said.
She walked around the back of the living quarters and retrieved a small iron pot before filling it up with water from the fountain. She then set up some small pebbles in a circle.
“Make enough for 3 people this time. We have an important guest here today, he arrived whilst you were out” the monk said.
The girl’s stomach tensed up a little and her shoulders stiffened.
Shit! A stranger!
She forced herself to take a deep breath and calm herself down.
“It’s unusual we get visitors” she replied, trying to supress the slight uneasiness in her voice.
The monk looked at her with a stern expression, and said
“Our visitor is someone important to me. He can be trusted… YOU can trust him. I know you still get nervous around strangers given your past. He’s…”
The monk paused and picked up a sheath which was lying down in the roots of the courtyard tree. Twirling the sword around once more, he soundlessly sheathed the weapon before turning towards the girl.
“I understand” the girl said. “So who is this person?”
“I’ll let him introduce himself. For now, I’m getting hungry!” the monk replied.
Placing a hand over the stones, she closed her eyes, letting herself focus completely on the stones in front of her.
Let the energy flow through the palms… control the pattern…
The small pebbles started glow red, like smouldering coals, heated up by a basic elemental technique. She placed the iron pot on the pebbles, and waited until the water started boiling. She threw in a few ingredients from the village plus a few mountain herbs of her own. Within minutes, the smells of her cooking dominated the air around the temple.
The girl lifted the pot off the rocks and put it aside, grunting as the pot landed touched down on the floor.
Oh… didn’t realise how hungry I was. It’s been 2 days since I’ve last had a proper meal!
She set down 3 bowls and began filling each of the up with a portion of the soup.
“Mmm… something smells goods!” boomed a voice from behind the paper screen door to the living quarters. Without warning the door slammed open, exposing a giant of a man, at least 2 meters tall, and muscles rippling out from every part of his body. He was topless and wore tight fitting shorts which moulded around his huge quadriceps. “Oh WOW! What a nice morning! It’s been a while since I’ve woken up to fine mountain air!”
Keeping her composure, the girl stood up and bowed slightly towards this newcomer.
“Good Morning. I’m Yoora.” She said calmly, supressing any anxiety she might have been feeling.
“Oh! Good morning Yoora, and you old man Jumong!” the man replied enthusiastically.
“Watch who you’re calling an old man you geezer…” Jumong replied with a dangerous glint in his voice. The air seemed to freeze as tension quickly rose around them.
“AH HAHAHAHAHAHA!” Jumong exploded into laughter, “You look better than last night. You looked like shit when you rolled through the gates!”
“4 days travel, night and day! I’d like to see you do that and still have the strength to fight off an overcautious monk!” the giant of a man responded.
“You know though, I bet Yoora would give you a run for your pride on that feat of yours” Jumong said, pointing at Yoora at the same time.
“About that, Yoora…” the man began.
“Ehem! We’ll do that later, for now let’s eat.” Jumong interrupted.
It was mid-morning by the time all 3 people had eaten breakfast and everything had been cleaned and put away. The sun was slowly warming up the air around the mountains, and there were only a scarce scattering of clouds in the sky. The valleys were alive with the calls of birds, with a few small brightly coloured birds flittering around the branches of the trees surrounding the temple grounds.
Despite being such a fine day, all 3 people headed into the Do Jang.
The Do Jang was a stone floored hall with a large array of bladed and ranged weapons line along the walls. There were air and light gaps in the upper parts of the walls allowing thing beams of light to shine through, barely illuminating the inside of the hall.
“I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself yet. My name is Ahn Tek Ho, headmaster of the Hwan-Sae Private Academy of Magic, Alchemy and Education.” Tek’s voice resonated around the hall, “I’ll make this as simple and as quick as I can make it. You’re approaching the age of 14. You’ve spent most of your life in these mountains, in isolation from the outside world. Both Jumong and I have decided that it would be best for you to attend the academy; to see the outside world.”
The headmaster paused for a bit, seeing Yoora’s face pale slightly, and continued
“I know you fear to be with people, not because of what they might do to you, but what you might do to them. This is an opportunity for you to regain confidence in yourself. You’ve come a long way since you’ve lived here. You can only learn to forgive yourself by facing your fears. You’ve done well in learning to live with yourself up until now, and from now on you will have my full support as well.”
The headmaster walked up to Yoora and squatted down to be at her eye level. He placed a hand on her shoulder and said
“This is a chance for you to make friends of your age. Learn about the outside world. Experience the life a normal teenage girl…”
Yoora started to laugh, a kind of slow, creepy laugh that sent shivers down the headmasters spine.
“A normal life… ha ha ha… what bullshit! How can I live a normal life after what I’ve done. I see the ghosts of hundreds of people in my dreams; I’m trampling on all their corpses… my hands are soaked in their blood!”
Her eyes started to fade into a deep crimson colour that gave off a feint glow in the gloominess of the hall.
“Don’t shit with me!” She screamed, emitting a shock wave which knocked the headmaster off his feet and forced Jumong to erect a barrier to protect himself.
“Do you know what I see when I look at my reflection in the eyes of those I’ve killed?! I see death, the very depths of darkness found only on those god forsaken moonless nights.”
Streams of silvery tears were rolling down her face, quivering with her uncontrolled shivering.
Red and black. That’s all she could see looking at the 2 figures standing before her. Thousands of small interweaved red threads were wrapped around and through the silhouettes, pulsating in sync with their hearts.
Thud thud thud thud thud thud…
Her heart was pounding in her chest, the rhythmical beat flooding out any coherent that might have formed in her mind. She had the urge to kill them, slice them apart, feast on them.
NO! No no no no! I don’t want this! Calm… calm… calm… I need to stop… stop…
Her vision started fading, the last thing she saw was the world tipped sidewards and both the headmaster and her master running towards her.