Anime Reviews

Anime Review: Moyashimon

Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture is a rare comedy anime that pokes fun at the way we see the world and introduces us to the “wonderful” world of microbes. Following the adventures of a young man, Tadayasu Sawaki, in his first year of college at the Agriculture University, it flirts around common themes of discovering identity, purpose, minority cultures, and humourously, sexuality.
Sawaki has a unique ability; he can see microbes. To be seen with the naked eye these guys are pretty huge compared to their usual sizes, but the author has taken the effort to depict them in a cuter way without compromsing their basic structure. You’ll see the A.niger bacteria with its strands of hair poking out the ends, while A.oryzae retains its bubble-shaped hair top, just to name a few.

From the first day of school itself, Sawaki and Yuki Kei, his childhood best friend, we are introduced to most of the main cast; eccentric-and-somewhat-mercenary Professor Itsuki, bondage-dressing Hasegawa, feels-like-parasite best buddies Kawahama and Misato, and cute anti-bacteria freak Oikawa. They are later joined by “Miss Agriculture” Mutou, so named for her beauty.

Professor Itsuki is interested in the many ways to ferment food and improve their quality as a whole. As fermentation is closely linked to microbes, Sawaki’s adventures frequently leads him to explore many different types of foods and fermentation under the guise of studying. Don’t let that fool you though; the series is less about studying and more about college misadventures, booze, and the attempt to get into a woman’s pants.

Sawaki’s interactions with the microbes are quite interesting to watch, but the main storyline doesn’t quite follow his interactions with them unless it advances the plot. Most of the time it deals with his interactions with other humans, especially the supporting cast. The many microbes and their functions are instead allocated a 30-second Microbe Theatre slot after the end credits, where their functions are explained.

Animation-wise, I find the style to be rather lazy in some parts. It’s not quite as crisp and vibrant as it can be, but what I can’t stand is the bad proportioning of the human body from side and top view angles. That’s my only grouse for this otherwise good series. Voice acting is top-notch, with names like Daisuke Sakaguchi and Mitsuki Saiga (latter was Wolfram from Kyo Kara Maoh!) lending realistic and expressive voices.

In the end, 11 episodes of Moyashimon merely whetted my appetite for more. It’s very sad that everything was wrapped up so suddenly, especially when it has the potential to be a sleeper hit. A word of warning though: some content in Moyashimon, especially in episodes 8-10 may not be suitable for children. There’s only one season so far; it’s highly doubtful we’ll see a second season anytime soon.

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Films/Movies Reviews

Over the Hedge: Striking Out to Discover New Grounds in Animation

Over the Hedge combines a unique enough premise with some very strong voice acting to create what is, overall, an excellent film. It’s been heralded as “the greatest animated picture since Shrek,” and while that seem to be a slight bit of an exaggeration, Over The Hedge is definitely a picture worth running out to see, with family in tow.
One of the highlights of this film is the soundtrack, composed and performed by Ben Folds. One has to wonder, after Over the Hedge, Tarzan (Phil Collins), and Curious George (Jack Johnson), if this is the beginning of a trend where popular musicians commandeer a film to create a soundtrack as an independent effort. Given the quality work that’s come out of these two films, let’s hope so. Over The Hedge also has a new version of Ben Folds’ “Rockin’ The Suburbs,” rewritten to be appropriate for kids, but nonetheless socially significant. The song retains enough qualities of the initial version that it will endear the film a bit to the Gen X parents now bringing kids to the film, and it does a beautiful job to reinforce the film’s sly criticisms of bourgeois life.

Ben Folds isn’t the sole musical influence in the film; the voice of the young opossum is none other than Avril Lavigne, who performs her role impressively well and will help the film appeal to the teenage audience that often feels themselves too old for “children’s films.” As the parental porcupines, you’ll find Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, icons of independent film (Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind) and no slouches in either the musical or comedic realms.

In short, this film has something for everyone, whether mainstream or independent, old or young. Add in some truly loveable characters, some characters you love to hate, and a cleverly masked message about the dangers of expanding suburbia and environmental responsibility, and you really do have, all in all, a terrific film. It’s a rare film that can bring the entire family together, but Over the Hedge definitely manages to do just that.

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