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Film Friday- The Twelve Kingdoms

Film Friday- The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is a Japanese series of fantasy novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series called The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last Kodansha volume was released in 2001. In 2012 the series was resumed under the Shinchō Bunko line from Shinchosha. Shinchosha has also begun reprinting the older volumes with new cover and interior art from Akihiro Yamada. The first new publication of the series in six years was announced for a 2019 release date.

The Chinese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an anime television series by Pierrot in 2002. It aired on Japan’s NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, and totaled 45 episodes.

The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha. The entire anime series has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by Media Blasters, which are now out of print. Now, the license is transferred to Discotek Media for a complete series Blu-ray released in 2019.

Overview

The Twelve Kingdoms is a series of novels that focus on a world inspired by Chinese mythology, where twelve different kingdoms exist under the rule of an individual chosen by the Tians. The series does not exclusively focus on one character, though the stories of Youko Nakajima, the protagonist of the first novel, and Taiki, the protagonist of the second book, are most prevalent in the series.

Characters

One of the major stories of the series centers around a red-haired girl named Youko Nakajima from Japan who is suddenly transported to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms and searches for her destiny. However, neither the series nor the anime concentrates solely on Youko and they do tell stories of other characters. The anime uses Youko as a framing device for telling other stories while the novels do not.

Each of the Twelve Kingdoms has a monarch and a Kirin, a mythological beast who first selects and then serves the monarch of his or her kingdom and can assume human form. Though only a few rulers and Kirin are in the main focus of the story, many are encountered in the series and play a significant role.

The novels focus on several characters other than Youko, including Taiki, a timid rare black Kirin who serves the ruler of Tai, and Enki and Shouryuu, the Kirin and King of En respectively. Other major characters include Keiki, the Kirin of Kei who brings Youko to the Twelve Kingdoms; Gyousou, a general chosen by Taiki to become King of Tai; Shushou, the Queen of Kyou; Shoukei, the disposed princess of Hou, and Suzu, a peasant girl who is unexpectedly transported from Japan to the Twelve Kingdoms.

Anime adaptation

Plot

The anime casts Yoko Nakajima, a Japanese girl who is suddenly transported to another world and eventually discovers that she is the empress of the kingdom of Kei, in the role of the main character; however, in the novels, Yoko is only one of many main characters and her story is focused upon in only two novels.

The anime focuses on the Kingdom of Kei and the events surrounding it. Several of the other countries are introduced, the most prominent being Kou, En and Tai, while Kyou, Hou, Sai and Ryuu play a minor role compared to the other three. The rest of the kingdoms are only introduced by name and a brief description of the current ruler and taiho. The anime also introduced the characters Asano and Sugimoto to accompany Yoko to the Twelve Kingdoms. Their role is to externalize some of Yoko’s problems that were internal in the novels.

Kingdom of Kei inhabitants

Youko Nakajima

is a sixteen-year-old honors student in Japan who lives an ordinary life. Her primary worries are her naturally red hair (it was speculated by some students and a teacher that Youko might’ve dyed her hair red) and an inexplicable recurring dream that haunts her. When a man named Keiki suddenly appears at her school, he bows at her feet, swearing loyalty to her and offering protection. The school is attacked by a giant bird and she reluctantly accepts his oath. He gives her a sword and transports her across the Void Sea to the Twelve Kingdoms, where she ends up in the Kingdom of Kou.

Youko is initially confused by the changes that have been brought onto her including a complete change in her appearance that she cannot see herself and being stranded in an unknown land with no means of returning home. These changes cause her to cry constantly, lapse into a state of helplessness, and complain about interfering in other beings’ lives no matter what the situation. As she searches for Keiki, she finds herself constantly battling against Youma and being betrayed by civilians of Kou many times. While Youko becomes wary of trusting others, she eventually comes to befriend and trust a hanjyu named Rakushun. They escape to the Kingdom of En where Youko learns that she is the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Kei. Although she is initially reluctant, Youko accepts the position through her growth in the story. In a later story arc as the newly appointed queen, Youko learns of several problems in her kingdom including a revolt in the Province of Wa. Subsequently, she is pulled into the search for Taiki when the Tai general Risai beseeches Youko’s help in finding him.

As the ruler of Kei, she is given the regnal name of Sekishi (Red Child), because of her bright red hair and because her councillors initially view her as a child. Despite being a weak character to begin with, appearing very withdrawn and not wanting to do anything that would bring attention to herself, Youko grows in strength and maturity, becomes empathetic towards the people around her, thinking articulately about her actions (especially as queen) and continues to do so until the end of the series.

Keiki

is a Kirin and the Saiho of Kei. Like all Kirin, Keiki abhors violence and prefers peaceful resolutions. Keiki appears as a very quiet and unemotional type, however does have caring qualities, especially seen towards the Kirin Taiki. In spite of being gruff and somewhat unapproachable, he is actually very sincere and loyal to Youko.

Before meeting Youko, Keiki had taken a long time before selecting Youko’s immediate predecessor, Joukaku, to become the ruler of Kei. However, she was an ineffective ruler and fell in love with Keiki; her jealousy resulted in irrational acts including expelling all the women from the country and executing those who remained. Keiki contracted Shitsudou and in order to save his life, Joukaku abdicated her throne and killed herself after a short reign of six years and was posthumously known as Yo-ou (the Prophet). Cured of his illness, Keiki set out immediately to find a new monarch for Kei.

He eventually finds Youko Nakajima, who had been living as a taika in Japan without any knowledge of the Twelve Kingdoms, and forcibly brings her back to the Twelve Kingdoms. They are separated on arrival and Keiki is captured and enchanted by Kourin, the kirin of Kou, so that he is unable to speak, summon his Shirei, or return to human form. Forced to appear before Joyei, Joukaku’s sister and pretender to the throne of Kei, Keiki remains a prisoner of the false ruler until Youko, aided by the King of En, rescues him and frees him from his enchantment. After liberating Kei, Keiki continues to advise Youko on statecraft and politics.

Aozaru

is the physical manifestation of the sentient spirit of the scabbard of the Suigūtō  (the Water Monkey Sword). The sword is a royal treasure to the kingdom of Kei and can only be wielded by the kingdom’s rightful ruler – as such, Youko is the only one who can draw the sword from its sheath. The sword was forged from a water demon that a previous great ruler of Kei had defeated while the scabbard was created from a long-tailed monkey demon. From the scabbard hangs a large jewel that can heal the one who holds it.

The sword is not only capable of killing demons and sages and breaking substances like metal chains, but is also capable of presenting visions of the past, future, and things in the distance. The sword and scabbard must be kept together, otherwise the phantasms of the sword appear unchecked while the spirit of the scabbard is free to act as it wishes. When Youko loses the scabbard during an attack by Kikis, it appears in the form of Aozaru, the blue monkey, and taunts her with her doubts while the sword presents her with visions of things she does not wish to see. Eventually, Youko, overcoming her own doubts, kills the monkey and picks up the dead scabbard. Because she has killed Aozaru, the sword can be drawn from the sheath by anyone, though it can be wielded effectively only by Youko.

Seikyou

has long served as the Chosai, the top administrator, of Kei. Seikyou works to convince Youko that Koukan, the leader of the province of Baku, is a threat to her. After an assassin plots to kill Youko, Seikyou advises Youko that Koukan planned it and that she should execute him, but Keiki advises her to listen to Koukan before acting. When Youko orders Koukan to report, Seikyou has him attacked, forcing him to flee. Seikyou continually seeks to confuse Youko, telling her that Gahou is corrupt but advising that no action be taken against him, even though Seikyou secretly supports Gahou. He repeatedly seeks meetings with her when Keiki is not present so that the kirin cannot advise her. Youko, citing Seikyou’s attempts to manipulate her and his failure to better safeguard her life, demotes Seikyou and appoints Keiki as chosai. When Youko leaves to study with Enho, Seikyou takes advantage of the situation to usurp Keiki’s authority. When the rebels become a threat to Gahou, Seikyou sends a royal army force under general Jinrai to Shisui to scare the rebels into surrendering, unaware of Youko’s presence in Wa because she told everyone in the court except Keiki that she was going to En. Seikyou’s plan fails because Youko appears to take control of the royal forces and she redirects them against Gahou. After Shoukei convinces Youko that Seikyou is the mastermind behind the plot, Youko has him arrested.

 

Novel Monday- The Twelve Kingdoms

Novel Monday- The Twelve Kingdoms

The Twelve Kingdoms is a Japanese series of fantasy novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series called The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last Kodansha volume was released in 2001. In 2012 the series was resumed under the Shinchō Bunko line from Shinchosha. Shinchosha has also begun reprinting the older volumes with new cover and interior art from Akihiro Yamada. The first new publication of the series in six years was announced for a 2019 release date.

The Chinese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an anime television series by Pierrot in 2002. It aired on Japan’s NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, and totaled 45 episodes.

The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha. The entire anime series has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States by Media Blasters, which are now out of print. Now, the license is transferred to Discotek Media for a complete series Blu-ray released in 2019.

There are nine novels in the Twelve Kingdoms series, including two short story collections. The novels are illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. Some of the novels have been published in two volume editions such that the total number of volumes consists of twelve books (as released in Japan).

U.S. release

On May 11, 2006, U.S. publisher Tokyopop said in an interview with comic book news website Newsarama that it would be publishing the novels under its “Pop Fiction” imprint. The first book was released in March 2007. The first four books have been released; after the licensing rights to the series reverted to Kodansha, the English publication status of the fifth book and onward will be dependent on Kodansha USA.

Setting

The Twelve Kingdoms tells several stories from the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, located on a group of several islands in another dimension accessible from our world through portals created from naturally-occurring magic (though the other way around is normally impossible). The portals occur in the ocean waters of Japan and China, and every so often will end up dragging someone from our world from those waters to the kingdoms’ islands, and/or on rare occasion, pulling an unborn child from the kingdoms into our world, causing them to be born there. On the islands, magic works and societies similar to those of classical Japan and China exist. While the inhabitants of the kingdoms are aware of the existence of our world as the lands of Hourai (Japan) and Kunlun (China), the reverse is not true for any inhabitants of our world. The inhabitants of the kingdoms speak a different language than the languages of our world, both of which can be learned by either side. Only by through extraordinary circumstances can the two worlds affect each other to a respective certain extent.

In this world, there are a total of thirteen lands. At the center of the world lies the Koukai (the Yellow Sea) and Five Mountains where the Gods communicate their will to the Twelve Kingdoms of the world. Each of the Twelve Kingdoms possess their own ruler and its own Kirin, a divine creature which embodies the will of heaven and is entrusted to choose a kingdom’s ruler by Tentei: Emperor of Heaven, and serve as the ruler’s aide. The ruler will have immortal life as long as they keep the kingdom healthy and their heads are not severed from their body. If the ruler’s Kirin dies or is killed, the ruler will die within a year.

The Koukai, known as the Yellow Sea, is surrounded by four inland seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Blue Sea to the east, the Red Sea in the south, and the White Sea to the west. Eight of the Twelve Kingdoms (Kei, En, Ryu, Kyou, Han, Sai, Sou, and Kou) border at least one of these four seas, extending from the center like the petals of a flower. The remaining four kingdoms (Tai, Hou, Ren, and Shun) are not part of the central mainland and are isolated by the Kyokai  (Void Sea) which surrounds the lands of the Twelve Kingdoms.

 

Film Friday- Honey and Clover

Film Friday- Honey and Clover

Honey and Clover is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Chica Umino. It is also known as HachiKuro and H&C. It is published by Shueisha, initially serialized from June 2000 to July 2006 in the magazines CUTiEcomic, Young YOU, and Chorus, and collected in ten bound volumes. The series depicts the lives and relationships of a group of art school students who live in the same apartment building. In 2003, the manga won the 27th Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo.

The series was adapted as an animated television series by J.C.Staff, initially broadcast on Fuji TV in two seasons from April to September 2005 and June to September 2006. The series was also adapted as a live action movie, which was released in theaters in Japan on July 22, 2006, and two separate live-action television dramas in 2008, one broadcast in Japan on Fuji TV from January 8, 2008 to March 18, 2008 and the other broadcast in Taiwan on CTS beginning on May 25, 2008.

Anime

The anime television series was produced by J.C.Staff and consists of 36 episodes in broadcast in two seasons on Fuji TV in the Noitamina programming block. The first season was directed by Ken’ichi Kasai, and consisted of 24 episodes that aired from April 14, 2005 and September 29, 2005 plus two DVD-only episodes. The second season was directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai, and consisted of 12 episodes that aired between June 29, 2006 and September 14, 2006.
Both seasons were rebroadcast in Japan by the anime CS television network Animax, which also later broadcast the series across its respective networks in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and other regions. The series was first broadcast in English on Amimax’s Southeast Asia network starting August 1, 2006.
The anime featured numerous sponsors, including clothing brands We, Adidas, Head Porter, Visvim and Sally Scott, as well as Weider in Jelly in the second season.
Funimation got the broadcast rights to Viz Media’s dub and it premiered on the Funimation Channel on September 19, 2009. Viz Media have subsequently released the entire series across three DVD collection sets. In Australia, the anime is distributed on DVD by Madman Entertainment. In May 2019, Discotek Media announced the license of the series.

Main characters

Yūta Takemoto
A second-year art student, age 19 at the start of the series, living in the same apartment complex as Mayama and Morita. Takemoto is the main character and acts as the point-of-view of the series, and often as narrator of episodes. He is depicted as the most mellow of the main characters. He falls in love with Hagu immediately after being introduced by his professor but keeps his feelings to himself through most of the series. Because of his inability to act upon his feelings as freely as Morita, Takemoto decides to act as a brother-figure to Hagu, giving her friendly support when needed, for example, building her sophisticated dollhouses at her request. Later in the series, as a result of his conflicted emotions, Takemoto develops a stomach ulcer, forcing him to repeat a year of school. Early in the series, he questions his vocation as an artist, but over the series he becomes comfortable with himself. After a bicycle trip to Cape Sōya, the northernmost point in Japan, Takemoto gains the confidence to tell Hagu how he really feels. Although Hagu does not accept him, Takemoto admits that just meeting her and the time they spend together has influenced him.
Hagumi Hanamoto
Usually called “Hagu” by her friends, she is an 18-year-old first-year art student at the start of the series. She is depicted as appearing and acting several years younger than her true age. Despite her appearance, she is a gifted artist and her work is highly praised by art professionals. She is shy and very nervous when interacting with people, to the point of becoming physically ill from stress, with the result that other art students think she is strange. She was raised by her grandmother in a sheltered environment, where she learned to draw sketching the ever-changing view from her porch. When Morita and Takemoto first meet Hagu, they both immediately fall in love with her, although they express it in different ways. Hagu spends most of the series unaware of their feelings for her, seeing them as friends. After Takemoto confesses his feelings for her, she begins avoiding him, and at the end of the series she admits she loves Morita. However, she returns to Shūji because she cannot imagine a life without drawing.
Shinobu Morita
A sixth-year art student, age 24 at the start of the series, in the same apartment complex as Takemoto and Mayama. Morita is depicted as a perpetual student, unable to graduate because of persistent absenteeism. This is mainly due to his work, which forces him to go missing for several days, after which he sleeps for at least 48 hours. Morita is considered mysterious by the other students, prone to bizarre behavior such as creating a version of Twister with too many colors. He is a perceptive person who cares for his friends Takemoto and Mayama but often expressing himself tactlessly, and who is not generous with his money and food. He also expresses his desire for Hagu in quirky ways, such as forcing her to dress up as a mouse because he likes cute things. Later in the series, he departs for a year in America, and eventually the others learn he has been moonlighting as an award-winning CGI artist.
Takumi Mayama
A fourth-year art student, age 22 at the start of the series, in the same apartment complex as Takemoto and Morita. He acts as a senpai (senior) to Takemoto and tries to help Morita get up for early morning classes. Early in the series, Mayama helps Rika Harada out with various errands at her design firm, Harada Design, during which time he develops feelings for Rika. The series initially leaves unclear whether Mayama takes advantage of Rika’s disability to fulfill his desires, but it is later shown that Rika reciprocates his feelings. At her urging, Mayama begins working for a different design firm, but after it breaks up, near the end of the series, he returns to work for Rika. Despite Yamada’s throwing herself at him, Mayama considers her only as his close friend, but he becomes protective of her when a colleague with a reputation for playing girls develops an interest in her.
Ayumi Yamada
A third-year art student, age 21 at the start of the series, specializing in ceramic arts. She is well-known by other students for her pottery and her nickname Tetsujin “Iron-lady” for running 6 km to school every morning to help her dog lose weight. She is depicted as a beautiful young woman, who catches the attention of her male friends and coworkers. Yamada is deeply in love with Mayama, but he does not return her feelings and repeatedly encourages her to find someone else. Later in the series, she is angered by Mayama’s sudden protectiveness when he tries to shield her from his former boss, Nomiya. Yamada is close friends with Hagu, who addresses her by first name. At the end of the series, Yamada continues as a graduate student in art, while making pottery for Harada Design.

Monday Manga- Honey and Clover

Monday Manga- Honey and Clover

Honey and Clover is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Chica Umino. It is also known as HachiKuro and H&C. It is published by Shueisha, initially serialized from June 2000 to July 2006 in the magazines CUTiEcomic, Young YOU, and Chorus, and collected in ten bound volumes. The series depicts the lives and relationships of a group of art school students who live in the same apartment building. In 2003, the manga won the 27th Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo.

The series was adapted as an animated television series by J.C.Staff, initially broadcast on Fuji TV in two seasons from April to September 2005 and June to September 2006. The series was also adapted as a live action movie, which was released in theaters in Japan on July 22, 2006, and two separate live-action television dramas in 2008, one broadcast in Japan on Fuji TV from January 8, 2008 to March 18, 2008 and the other broadcast in Taiwan on CTS beginning on May 25, 2008.

In 2003, the manga of Honey and Clover won the 27th Kodansha Manga Award for shōjo. About.com’s Deb Aoki lists Honey and Clover as the best new josei manga of 2008. Yū Aoi won the award for Best Actress at the 28th Yokohama Film Festival for her role as Hagumi Hanamoto in the live-action film.

Manga

The Honey and Clover manga was written and illustrated by Chika Umino and published by Shueisha. The first fourteen chapters were serialized in the josei (aimed at younger adult women) manga magazine CUTiEcomic from June 2000 to July 2001, when serialization moved to Young YOU. With the demise of Young YOU in 2005, it moved to Chorus, where it ran until July 2006. The 64 chapters were collected in ten bound volumes. The series was also issued in a ten-volume box set in May 2007.
The manga is licensed in North America by Viz Media, which began serializing it in Shojo Beat magazine in August 2007. It is also licensed in France by Kana, in Germany by Tokyopop Germany, and in Thailand by Bongkoch Comics.
In commemoration of the success of the live action drama series, a two-chapter spin-off was released from 2006 to 2008, again written and illustrated by Umino Chika, bringing the story to a final close.

Plot

Yūta Takemoto, Takumi Mayama and Shinobu Morita are three young men who live in the same apartment complex and are students at an art college in Tokyo.

One day, they are introduced to Hagumi Hanamoto, the daughter of a cousin of Shūji Hanamoto, an art professor, who has come to live with Hanamoto and has become a first year art student at the art school that everyone attends. Yuta and Shinobu both fall in love with Hagu, but Yuta hides his feelings and tries to be a friend to Hagu while Shinobu expresses his love in ways that seem only to scare Hagu, such as calling her “Mousey” and constantly photographing her. Hagu herself, though initially timid and afraid of company, gradually warms up to the three.

The group comes to include Ayumi Yamada, a master of pottery who is well known by her nickname “Tetsujin” (Iron Lady), who becomes very close to Hagu. When not at school, she helps run the family liquor store. While Ayumi is popular with many young men, she falls in love with Takumi, who does not recipocrate her feelings and considers her a very dear friend. Instead, Takumi pursues an older woman, Rika Harada, a widowed friend of Professor Hanamoto who runs an architecture studio she founded with her late husband.

The story follows these five characters in their love triangles, unrequited love, graduating from college, finding jobs, and learning more about themselves.

 

Film Friday- Gokusen

Film Friday- Gokusen

Gokusen is a manga series by Kozueko Morimoto. The story follows Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a yakuza boss and teacher at an all-male private high school. In 2008, an SP manga was out, featuring some of Yankumi’s (Kumiko) old students who are by now working adults.

In 2002, the manga was adapted into a television drama with Yukie Nakama in the title role. A second series was produced in 2005. The third season of the (live action) series was aired as Nippon Television’s 55th Anniversary Program in 2008.

A 13 episode animated adaptation by Madhouse ran on Nippon Television from January 6, 2004 to March 30, 2004.

A movie as part of the drama series was released in Japanese theaters on July 11, 2009.

Characters

Kumiko “Yankumi” Yamaguchi
is a 23-year-old university graduate and is newly hired at Shirokin Gakuen. She is very idealistic and wants to inspire her students and help them graduate high school. Since the age of 7, when her parents died, Kumiko has been living with her grandfather, who is the head of an influential Tokyo Ninkyo group. Despite this strange upbringing and the bizarre mannerisms she has picked up from it like her use of yakuza slang and a habit of running from the cops when she sees them, Kumiko is a good-hearted girl who has a strong faith in her students even when they think the world is against them. Her belief in them and her combat skills help her earn their respect. They give her the nickname “Yankumi,” something she greatly likes. It is also revealed that she is attracted to men in a fundoshi; going into a trance when she saw Shin in one. In the 2008 SP manga, Yankumi finally returned Sawada’s feeling after Sawada saved her from a gang of bikers. A running gag for the drama series is that with each new series almost everyone has completely forgotten she is next in line to run the yakuza, even when asking a fellow teacher from a previous series he replied only with a puzzled look on his face. Another running gag is in the beginning of each new series, she is shown incapable of teaching unless she is teaching the delinquents of the school and, more often than not, scaring her students with her unusual behavior.

Shirokin High School

Shin Sawada
18-year-old Shin is the leader of class 3-D (17-year-old leader of 2–4 in the manga). He is cool, level-headed, smart, and somewhat introverted. Everyone in the class looks up to him. When he was in middle school, he punched a teacher for refusing to apologise to an innocent student the teacher had been unfairly harassing. He knows right away that something is not normal about their new teacher and keeps an eye on her. He’s the first one who found out Yankumi’s true identity and later confesses to her [in the manga’s last chapter] that he is in love with her. In the manga, he is given the alias of “Young Master Red Lion” from Kyou. Shin’s father is a high ranking police official. At the end of the series he wanted to become a Yakuza lawyer so to be with Kumiko, and when he confessed to her, it appeared that everyone knew of his feelings for her, even the teachers, except for her. In the drama, his father is a senator. An amusing aspect of this series is that whenever he thinks he’s on a mission to save Kumiko, he always gets beaten up and she continuously has to come to his rescue. He never returned in the sequels in the live-action series as he decided to go abroad as a social worker. While in the Special Manga 2008, Sawada is a top student of Toudai University and he has a stable life and job. As he’s seen taking Yankumi out for a movie with his own car and constantly with her, stating why he was so cooperative with her back then was because he liked her at first sight and set up their casual meeting to turn it into a date. For the first time he is shown with emotion when one of Yankumi’s new students tricks her into fighting a gang of bikers and he goes off to save her – he managed to save her.

Youichi Minami
He is one of Shin’s friends. He always gets into fights, like everyone else. He had gotten into a fight with Ichiro Tsuruta, and was beaten by him. Minami is the tough guy of the group. In the anime and manga he is often seen with Noda, indicating a close friendship. In the drama he was a ladies man, but in the anime/manga he was considered the ugliest.

 

Haruhiko “Uchi” Uchiyama
He is the guy with a weird purple hairstyle. In the drama, he has long hair that he bleached blonde. He’s also one of Shin’s friends. He was lost in Okinawa when they had a trip there and he gave Kumiko and Shin a lot of problems during that time. When they finally found him, Kumiko smacked him until his face was swollen. In the drama, he is a tough guy with a soft spot for his mother. His nickname is Uchi. In the manga, he is the first of the group to get a girlfriend when he starts a relationship with a horror-obsessed girl named Shiori. She constantly terrifies him with horror stunts. After a while, he seems to embrace her love of horror, even thinking about becoming a monster movie make-up artist.

Teruo “Kuma” Kumai
Large and tough, Kumai (called “Kuma”, or “Bear” by everyone) always seems to be getting into trouble. He’s either getting into fights, or being accused of theft, or being attacked by a rival school. Kuma and Shin are best friends. They grew up together, and Kuma calls Shin “Shin-chan”. Even Kuma’s mother was friends with Kumiko before she became a teacher. He is also the only former student of Yankumi’s shown in the second and third drama seasons. He eventually marries his first love and later becomes a father. Throughout the seasons he helps Yankumi when he sees her students getting into some kind of trouble and becomes a mentor to them as well. In each new series of the drama there is always a kid who greatly resembles Kuma in Yankumi’s class.

 

Takeshi Noda
He is also one of Shin’s friends. He was the one who thought of giving Kumiko “Yankumi” as her nickname. Takeshi Noda is a member of class 2–4. Although not typically a main cast member, in one episode (in the drama), he becomes obsessed with the teacher Shizuka Fujiyama. Hurt when she threw away a present he gave her, Noda takes a picture of her at her secret second job: hostess of a bar. He then sends the picture to the head teacher and almost gets Shizuka put on probation for a week, to be fired if class 3-D does not get at least a 30 on their English mid-finals. In the manga, he is the first of his classmates to figure out that Shin likes Yankumi and gets Shin to admit so. In the manga, he is much more involved than in the anime or drama. He is also much smarter in the manga, like one instance when Ms. Fujiyama was being stalked, Noda made many suggestions as to how the stalker could follow Ms. Fujiyama. One thing he has in common with his drama counterpart is his sense in fashion, as demonstrated in the chapter of the manga “Protect our F-cup”, where he dresses Yamaguchi in his sister’s clothing in which Uchiyama and the others (first in disgust) found that the outfit worked well with her. He is often seen with Minami in the anime and manga, indicating a friendship between them, possibly being best friends. In the anime and manga he is accused of being a thief (similar to Uchi’s situation in the drama).

Shizuka Fujiyama 
is another female teacher hired by Shirokin Gakuin at the same time as Yankumi. In the drama, Fujiyama teaches English. In the anime she teaches music. One of her students once attempted suicide and she learned a lesson because of that incident. She started a choir club in school. In the drama, Fujiyama wears her normal clothes all the time, but in the anime and manga she wears a tracksuit like Yankumi does. Fujiyama used to teach middle school students, and is very happy to be teaching at a high school. She jokes about which boys are cute, and whom she would sleep with. In the manga, she developed a crush on Kyo-san and tries to meet him, but she doesn’t believe he’s her “knight”. Since she daydreamed him younger looking.

Goro Sawatari
The School’s Vice-Principal is Yankumi’s main nemesis amongst the school staff. In episode 13 he was the 3rd person to find out about Yankumi’s secret only to realize that she resigned. Also he tried to use a camera when he witnessed a fight only to be caught by Kyo. He is only majorly featured in the drama and anime. In the drama, despite initially antagonistic towards Yankumi and her class, he was undeniably portrayed as more benevolent than his anime incarnation. His state of benevolence was shown to be more prominent in Gokusen 2, where among the last few episodes, he deliberately informed Yankumi that her class attempted to boycott their graduation unless she calls off her resignation. It would seem that the drama-version Sawatori has grown to respect the headstrong and dignified educator that Yankumi is, despite knowing that he also risked getting fired in the process (he was poised for promotion). He was later seen a month after graduation, apparently assigned to another school (claiming to have resigned from the last one). He has a wife in the drama who runs an arranged marriage business, though he is constantly seen enjoying himself with younger women. A running gag in the drama is that he is able to instantly retain his status as Vice-Principal with each new school, even leading Yankumi to question how he does that.

Gonzou Shirakawa
The School’s Principal. He does have a great knack for popping up suddenly at unusual times to point out useful information. In the manga and anime, the Koucho is this happy little bald guy who likes to wear bow ties. He knows that Yankumi is next in line to the yakuza, and discovered that was one of the main reasons he hired her, because he knew she would be able to easily handle that class.

Manga Monday- Gokusen

Manga Monday- Gokusen

Gokusen is a manga series by Kozueko Morimoto. The story follows Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a yakuza boss and teacher at an all-male private high school. In 2008, an SP manga was out, featuring some of Yankumi’s (Kumiko) old students who are by now working adults.

In 2002, the manga was adapted into a television drama with Yukie Nakama in the title role. A second series was produced in 2005. The third season of the (live action) series was aired as Nippon Television’s 55th Anniversary Program in 2008.

A 13 episode animated adaptation by Madhouse ran on Nippon Television from January 6, 2004 to March 30, 2004.

A movie as part of the drama series was released in Japanese theaters on July 11, 2009.

Plot

The plot revolves Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a Yakuza boss, Kuroda of the Kuroda Ikka. Her parents died when she was at the age of seven, and her grandfather had no other descendants, so Kumiko is next in line to head the family business with the title of Ojou. However, her lifelong dream has been to become a teacher. While her grandfather approves of her choice, others in the family want her to become the next boss.

Kumiko becomes home teacher of class 4-2 in mathematics at an all-boys private high school where she is known as Yankumi. Her class is full of delinquents, but she tries her hardest to teach them not just academicly, but about lessons of life. Though she’s forced to keep her family a secret from the public, her Yakuza upbringing gives her the strength and the experience to reach out to her students, while also providing comedic situations.

Film Friday- Karneval

Film Friday- Karneval

Karneval is a Japanese manga series by Tōya Mikanagi which originally started serialization in the monthly Josei Manga magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum published by Ichijinsha on August 28, 2007. There are currently twenty-one volumes released in Japan. A 13-episode anime adaptation by Manglobe aired between April and June 2013.
An anime adaptation was announced in April 2012. The anime premiered on April 3, 2013 on ABC. It was later licensed for streaming by Funimation in North America and premiered on their streaming service April 8, 2013 at 12:35pm EST. The anime was released by Bandai Visual on Blu-ray and DVD volumes with English subtitles, with the first volume being released on May 28, 2013. The opening theme is “Henai no Rondo”  by Granrodeo while the ending theme is “Reason” by Kamiyu.

Circus

Yogi 
The Second Ship’s Fighter Yogi is an eccentric 21-year-old man who’s always bright and cheerful. He is Hirato’s subordinate. Despite his age, he tends to act like a child. He wears a white allergy patch on his left cheek, that, when removed, causes him to become extremely violent, as well as changing his hair color. While he states that battles make him nervous, he is still a skilled fighter. During the Circus’ public shows he usually wears a cat costume named “Nyanperona” and hands out candy to children. His weapons are two thorn-like épées, and the name of his special attack is Dornkiste (German for “thorn chest”). He calls Nai “little Nai”. He looks after Gareki and Nai with Tsukumo. Though Yogi cares for everyone, he has a soft spot for Gareki.
Tsukumo 
Another fighter of the Second Ship’s crew, and Hirato’s subordinate. She is always wearing a serious expression on her face, is down to earth, and very dedicated. Tsukumo is a skilled acrobat and her beauty is complimented by both men and women. She is the most level-headed out of the group, and tries to be the shoulder to lean on even though she has a hard time understanding others emotions. Tsukumo is close to Nai, and cares about his well-being. She hated insects ever since she was a child, which was shown when Yogi mentioned that the species “niji” has a diet of primarily insects.
Hirato
The Second Ship’s Captain. A very polite 27-year-old man who doesn’t take his work too seriously, but does his job well. His smile can be deceiving and people have a hard time figuring out his true intentions and feelings. Upon taking Gareki and Nai on board his ship, he entrusts them to Yogi and Tsukumo. His weapon is a cane, and the name of his special attack is Vakuum (German for “vacuum”).
Eva 
The Second Ship’s 25-year-old Lieutenant. She appears to be soft and feminine when she’s with women but acts masculine when she’s with men. She is very fond of Tsukumo.
Akari
A doctor working for the government. He’s a complete workaholic; a fact which often grates on the nerves of the people around him. He doesn’t seem to have a good relationship with Hirato and Yogi seems to be slightly scared of him. It is implied that he is wealthy. Due to the reserved, unfeeling and stoic front he puts up most of the time he is rather disliked by many, yet he is actually a very gentle person who cares for living beings, Nai being one of them.
Jiki 
A soft-spoken botanist who also First Ship’s fighter. Jiki seems to have feelings for Tsukumo from the Second Ship and he does not get along very well with Eva.

 

Tsukitachi 
The First Ship’s Captain. An easygoing member of Circus who does not care about the small things. He often comes off as being quite rude, but he is simply being straightforward with his observations. He is the same age as Hirato.
Kiichi 
The First Ship’s fighter. A female member of Circus who is strong-willed, a sore loser and perfectionist. She considers Tsukumo her rival.
Azana 
Akari’s long-haired assistant, originally stationed in Life Division but occasionally help in Research Tower. He’s very gentle and a bit of a klutz. His face is usually littered with band-aids. His family was killed by Varuga.

Kafka

Karoku
The person that Nai is looking for. He is 18 years old, and is described by Nai as a gentle person, but their connection is still unknown. He is still alive, but his location is unknown. At the end of the second episode of the anime, however, it is implied that Karoku is held somewhere by Kafka. He is seen in a dark greenhouse full of roses with Eliška, the young granddaughter of a rich industrial who is implied to be the leader of Kafka. He sends messages to Nai through brain waves. He calls Nai his “special child”. During the incident at Smokey Resident, it is revealed that there are two Karokus; one that appears to be Karoku but is not, and one that is the original Karoku. Gareki and Nai rescue the presumably dead original Karoku but Akari brings him back to life. When revived, he has no memories of who Nai is. After Nai protects him from dying, Karoku remembers Nai again.
Eliška
The 14-year-old granddaughter of Palnedo, the CEO of Gald. She grew up in an environment where she was treated like a princess, and as a result she was brought up to be a selfish girl who does not know how to be considerate towards others. She is revealed to have feelings for the fake Karoku. At one point when she hears Karoku say there is a special child in circus, she believes him to be talking about Tsukumo, which makes her feel jealous. She seems to be unaware of Uro and her grandfather’s true intentions and schemes.

 

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Manga Monday- Karneval

Manga Monday- Karneval

Karneval is a Japanese manga series by Tōya Mikanagi which originally started serialization in the monthly Josei Manga magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum published by Ichijinsha on August 28, 2007. There are currently twenty-one volumes released in Japan. A 13-episode anime adaptation by Manglobe aired between April and June 2013. On August 22, 2014, North American manga publisher Yen Press announced the license of the manga, with the first volume to be published on March 24, 2015. Yen Press is releasing Karneval volumes in a 2-in-1 omnibus format.

Plot

Nai searches for someone important to him, with only an abandoned bracelet as a clue. Gareki steals and pick-pockets to get by from day to day. The two meet in a strange mansion where they are set up, and soon become wanted criminals by military security operatives. When Nai and Gareki find themselves desperate in a hopeless predicament, they encounter none other than the country’s most powerful defense organization, “Circus”.

Characters

Main characters

Nai 
is the main protagonist of the story. He claims to have always been living with a man named Karoku in a forest near Karasuna. When Karoku does not appear one day, Nai ventures outside and finds a trail of blood leading from their home to the sea, and a left-behind bracelet (Circus I.D.). Feeling scared and lonely, he sets out to try finding Karoku with only the abandoned bracelet as a clue. He eventually meets Gareki, who saves Nai from a mansion where a Varuga woman named Mine was keeping him captive. This marks the beginning of their travel together. Despite his unworldly ways, he has an acute sense of hearing that is more well-developed compared to other people’s. Akari, a research doctor at Circus reveals that Nai has the cellular structure of a human and a “niji”, a small, delicate creature found in the forest he came from, and that these cells have managed to coexist unlike the Varuga. He also said that Nai is successfully existing as a new species and that if they were to describe the person who accomplished this, they would certainly be called a genius and that to produce a being like Nai, the creator must have been very devoted.
Gareki 
A 15-year-old boy who gets money by robbing rich people’s mansions. He’s very intelligent and sharp, his strong point being his knowledge of mechanics. He is also a skilled shooter and likes to carry around a gun. Gareki distrusts people and isn’t very sociable, stating that he hates associating with others. However, despite his arrogant and distant attitude, he does have a more caring side that he doesn’t like showing, seeming to have a soft spot for his friends on the second ship and Nai. He originally thought to use Nai for his robbing schemes but later joins him to find Karoku. When Nai tells Gareki about Karoku knowing that they were together, Gareki realizes that Karoku wants to keep him away from Nai. Gareki works with the Circus organization to help defeat Kafta and Varuga, who killed Tsubaki and Yokata.

Film Friday- Sensual Phrase

Film Friday- Sensual Phrase

Sensual Phrase is a shōjo manga series created by Mayu Shinjo. The manga was published by Shogakukan in Shōjo Comic between 1997 and 2000, and collected in 18 bound volumes. It was adapted as a 44-episode anime television series by Studio Hibari, and as a series of novels. The series tells the story of Aine Yukimura, a high school student who becomes the lyricist for a Japanese rock band, and her relationship with the band’s lead singer, Sakuya Ookochi.

To promote the anime, a real-life band was formed: Λucifer, the band the story focuses on. The rival band, e.MU, seems to have been active before the manga was created. Both bands continued after the anime ended before disbanding. In the series, Λucifer’s original name is Lucifer, changed to Λucifer (using the Greek letter lambda) when the band decides to go international. For the purposes of the article this second name, Λucifer, is used. Japanese names are given in Western order, with family name last.

Production

In her blog, Shinjo noted that though she was the actual creator of Sensual Phrase, she was one of the last to know that the series would be adapted into an anime, and that by the time she knew, Shogakukan had already made the decision to do the series. She was also unaware that there were talks about a film adaptation of the series until two years after the proposal was rejected. When the anime was rerun on AT-X, she learnt of this through the channel’s official website. She left Shogakukan in 2007, despite the company’s threat to take all of her earlier series, including Sensual Phrase, out of print if she did so. Shinjo contacted a lawyer, and the threat was never carried out.

Sensual Phrase was adapted as an anime television series by Studio Hibari. It was directed by Hiroko Tokita, with music by Susumu Akitagawa and character designs by Yumi Nakayama. There were multiple opening and closing theme tunes, some of them credited to fictional bands Λucifer and e.MU, for which real-world counterparts were created. The anime was broadcast on TV Tokyo in 44 episodes from April 20, 1999 to March 25, 2000. It was later released on 11 videos by Pony Canyon.

Aine Yukimura

The main female protagonist of the series, Aine is a shy but innocent high school girl who does not know how to hide her feelings. Her home life is rocky, her parents seem to ignore her, and she is mostly left to her own devices. Hurt by this emotional neglect and lacking confidence in herself, she clings to and relies on Sakuya to protect and defend her and feels guilty about her inexperience and doubts. When Sakuya tells her parents that Aine will be living with him, they realize they are losing their daughter to a dangerous world. Sakuya eventually convinces Aine’s father that he loves her and will protect her, so they can live together. Aine has to fight to find her own place within the record label, and prove herself repeatedly. She comes to be seen as important to Sakuya’s emotional wellbeing and to the band, and earns her place with her innovative concepts and her lyrics. Towards the series end, following her rape and the death of her friend, band producer Hitoshi Takayama, she grows up, matures, and becomes stronger.

Sakuya Ookochi

The main character of the series, Sakuya is the highly talented lead singer of Λucifer. Seventeen and still in high school, he is also the band’s youngest member. He transfers to Aine’s high school to get closer to her. While he respects and trusts Yuki, the only other band member he is close to is Atsuro. He is known for his striking blue eyes, inherited from his American father. Sakuya is also rude, physical, and does not care about life, even when he begins to sing with the band Lucifer. Sakuya has spent most of his young teenage years paying off his mother’s debt at the club where she worked. Like his mother, he sang and played the piano for club guests. But to make more money, he also worked as a male escort prostitute on the side. He was able to do this because he appears older than his years. His harsh childhood experiences have caused Sakuya to lose trust in people. But when he meets high school girl Aine, he shows a new caring and sensitive attitude towards others, especially to Aine. When she first starts working for them he tells himself that he is selfishly using her, but before long his true feelings emerge. ~ See Sakuya’s one-shot and Vol. 10, Lucifer’s Legend. Sakuya also makes an appearance in “Love Celeb” as Kirara’s producer.

 

Manga Monday- Sensual Phrase

Manga Monday- Sensual Phrase

Sensual Phrase is a shōjo manga series created by Mayu Shinjo. The manga was published by Shogakukan in Shōjo Comic between 1997 and 2000, and collected in 18 bound volumes. It was adapted as a 44-episode anime television series by Studio Hibari, and as a series of novels. The series tells the story of Aine Yukimura, a high school student who becomes the lyricist for a Japanese rock band, and her relationship with the band’s lead singer, Sakuya Ookochi.

Manga

Written and illustrated by Mayu Shinjo, Sensual Phrase premiered in Shōjo Comic in 1997, where it was serialized monthly until its conclusion in 2000. The individual chapters were collected and published in 17 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan from June 1997 through January 2001. An additional volume was released on April 24, 2003 containing a sequel chapter to the story and additional unrelated short stories. Shogakukan republished the serialized chapters across six shinsoban hard cover editions in 2003, and re-released the original 17 volumes in 2006 with new covers

Sensual Phrase is licensed for English-language release in North America by Viz Media, including the special final volume. Viz Media published the first volume of the series on March 24, 2004; the final volume was released on February 13, 2007.

The series is licensed for regional language publication by Editorial Ivréa in Spain and Latin America, Pika Edition in France, Egmont Manga & Anime in Germany, and Star Comics in Italy. It was serialized in Germany in Manga Twister, and in Italy in Amici.

Light novels

Five novels based on the manga were published by Shogakukan:

  • 90-nichi no Densetsu, published December 1, 1999
  • Hong Kong Kyoushikyoku, published July 25, 2000
  • Ao no Meikyu, published November 26, 2001
  • Owarinaki Shinwa, published February 2001
  • Engage Song, published June 3, 2003

Plot

Aine Yukimura is a seventeen-year-old high school student who writes sensual song lyrics and hopes to become a songwriter. One day, two school friends talk her into entering her best lyrics into a contest. When someone bumps into her in the street, she drops her lyrics and is almost run over by a passing car. It is driven by Sakuya Ookochi, lead singer of the hard rock band Lucifer, which is known for its sensual lyrics. Aine does not know who he is, but falls in love. He makes sure she is not hurt, and gives her an all-access pass to that night’s show. After she leaves, he finds her lyrics and takes them back to the band with a plan in mind.

That night, Aine listens from the back of the audience. As she turns to leave, she hears Sakuya singing her lyrics. She runs to the stage to see if he is the driver of the car. She is swept off her feet. At first, people tell her Sakuya is never serious about women, and she thinks he might be toying with her. Later, he kidnaps her and convinces her to become the band’s lyricist, and she thinks he is playing with her but for business reasons, not romance. Sakuya then transfers to Aine’s high school, wanting to protect and work with her. Initially, he sees her as an innocent he can tease, but his feelings for her soon grow. Seeing her talent, and wanting to win the girl, Sakuya campaigns for Aine to become the band’s official lyricist. His manager initially objects, but relents on seeing the continued excellence of Aine’s lyrics. She becomes their lyricist, using the male pseudonym Yukihiko Aine to protect her identity and the band’s image.

Aine and Sakuya’s relationship gets off to a rocky start, when they do not communicate their real feelings. Aine tries to hide her feelings for Sakuya, thinking he sees the two of them only as co-workers. She believes he wants to preserve her virginal imagination so that she will continue to write hit songs for the band. This seems confirmed when he rejects her advances. Although Sakuya is not subtle by nature, he attempts to express his feelings for her by writing a ballad called “Little Bird” or “Love Melody”, but she continues to misunderstand. Finally, after filming the music video “Drug”, he corners her and confesses his feelings.

But beginning a romance and being the girlfriend of a high-profile star is not easy. As the series progresses, Aine finds herself the frequent target of Sakuya’s enemies, including rival bands and obsessed fans.

Ralph Grazer, Sakuya’s older half-brother, is an American media mogul who heads a business empire in the United States and is branching into Asian markets. Ralph has a grudge against Sakuya, whom he has never met although their father has pushed them to make contact. Ralph goes to Japan, and uses blackmail to force Aine to break up with Sakuya and work for him instead. Sakuya takes time out from the band to confront his biological father, the man had who had raped his mother. Sakuya travels to America to learn the family business, which gives him the knowledge and power to take Ralph’s position as head of the media corporation. Sakuya returns to Japan and forces Ralph to sign a contract under which he will recover his position in return for releasing Aine. Ralph, used to getting whatever and whomever he wants, is confused by this tactic and by Sakuya’s love for Aine. He returns to the United States to start over and relearn from their father. Ralph returns twice more in the manga, but no longer necessarily as Sakuya’s enemy.

Lucifer continues to grow, becoming a major hit. Renamed Λucifer, the band prepares to tour America and Europe. Sakuya and Aine attempt to balance their love and professional lives. Aine’s feelings for Sakuya and her ability to write lyrics are tested. The band hires Hitoshi Takayama as producer to prepare for international fame. At first, Hitoshi thinks Aine is nothing more than an outspoken groupie, with no place on band premises or in Sakuya’s life. But as he gets to know her he falls in love, hiding his feelings by pretending to be homosexual. As Hitoshi plans the band’s six-month move to England to set the stage for capturing European fans, he attempts to break up both Sakuya and Aine’s relationship and another couple, one of the band’s guitarists, Atsuro, and his girlfriend Yuuka. Yuki, another guitarist, soon puts a stop to this plan, letting Takayama know that band members owe their success to their families and lovers.

Kaito Yoshioka, president of a rival label, resents Λucifer’s success. He decides to use Aine to break up the band, and brutally rapes her in an attempt to break Sakuya. Hitoshi finds Aine and takes her to his home to try to comfort her, helping her avoid Sakuya out of shame, self-loathing and fear of being rejected. When Aine tries to commit suicide that night, Takayama tells Sakuya. Sakuya loses his voice and desire to sing, and leaves the band. Yuki realizes that the only way to protect the band is to sign with Sakuya’s half-brother Ralph’s label, taking the band international. Meanwhile, Sakuya tries to kill Yoshioka, but Ralph stops him. He reminds Sakuya that Aine needs him to be with her, not in prison. Ralph avenges Aine by having Yoshioka investigated for tax evasion and fraud, which destroys his company.

Aine is in a near-catatonic state, and Sakuya takes her into hiding to care for her. When she again attempts suicide, he cuts his own wrist telling her he will die with her if that is what she really wants. Aine snaps out of her depression and begins to heal emotionally. Takayama finds Sakuya, and with Yuki makes several attempts to persuade Sakuya to return to the band. Aine realizes that Sakuya is avoiding music and is afraid that she will be hurt again because of him. She convinces him to return to the world they both love. Takayama’s death in a car accident tramatizes and pushes Sakuya to rejoin the band and sign the contract. Ralph tells Sakuya that, when he takes over from their father, he wants Sakuya to head the company’s media business. Sakuya refuses, saying he would rather be a producer. After Takayama’s death, Λucifer performs its final concert in Japan before moving to New York City. While they are overseas, Aine studies to take Takayama’s place and become a producer. At the end of the series, Sakuya and Aine are married with a son. ~ See one-shot of Atsuro and Yuuka’s wedding, and one-shot ‘King Egoist’ in Love Celeb for the announcement of Sakuya and Aine’s second child ~