Friday, January 30, 2009

Yuri Mania 2: Maria-sama ga Miteru - 1st Season

Gokigenyou minna-san! Greetings everyone. Welcome to the second week of Yuri Mania. The title sure is appropriate, because I'm a major yuri maniac at the moment. I spent about 5 hours scouring the first season of Maria-sama ga Miteru (MariMite for short) for screenshots! which made it the fourth time I've watched this show... So obviously this week I'll be reviewing the first season of MariMite.

Maria-sama ga Miteru or Maria Watches Over Us is about the lives of the students in Lillian Girls' Academy. In this school there is a system of sisterhood where the higher grade students chooses a younger student to be her little sister or petite soeur. The story focuses more on the student council group called the Yamayuri council, which is further divided into three groups of roses.

From left to right: Rosa Gigantea, Rosa Chinensis and Rosa Foetida.

The Chinensis family consists of the main characters of this show: the ever stern Sachiko Ogasawara, who just recently christened her new petite soeur, Yumi Fukuzawa, and Rosa Chinensis at the head of the "family", Mizuno Yoko, who only acts mostly as a supporting character in the series. The story is told mostly through Yumi's point of view. The Foetida family consists of Rosa Foetida Eriko Torii, her younger sister, Rei Hasekura and Yoshino Shimazu, Rei's cousin who is her petite soeur by default. The Gigantea family has the fewest members which consists of Rosa Gigantea Sei Sato, and Shimako Todo, who is in the same class as Yumi.

Yeah, what she said...

A fair warning: If you think you're going to watch a show with explicit yuri scenes, you're going to have to think twice. This series is mostly about character development and relationships, and it will be slow and VERY melodramatic. If you're into these kinds of things, however, then you will be right at home. Plus there are a lot of humour, innuendos and teasings sandwiched in between!

The first episode may confuse a lot of people, like me, because they introduced ALL of these characters at once even before the opening theme song! I think there were just too many to remember when you started, so I hope this review can help you out a little if you plan to watch it. The first arc involves the Rosa Chinensis en bouton (French for rosebud), Sachiko trying to find a petite soeur so that she can avoid becoming Cinderella. She didn't mind it, but unfortunately she has to be in the play with an actual guy, and she doesn't like guys... Wow a nice start already! Fortunately for Sachiko there's a girl right behind that door who doesn't have a grande soeur yet, and she's a fan of Sachiko! Unfortunately she won't go down that easy... Doesn't it just make the chase more fun that way? Hehehe.
Yay for conquest!

The Foetida family. Yoshino (the one with pig tails) was very sickly in the beginning, but she becomes very lively later on.

SAY WHAT!? Rosa Foetida is very eccentric... and probably the only girl in the show who likes guys.

The story eventually moves on to focus on the other roses and their family members, and even a I-want-to-join-our-bodies flashback story! So yes, there are a little bit more than what I've said in my warning. The story flowed well between these arcs, and you get to see more character developments, especially Yoshino. Shimako also had her moments at the end, so it didn't look like as if she was neglected. It did get a bit confusing near the end because they stuck in a Christmas Day story in between a Valentine's Day story. You're going to have to get used to this if you plan on continuing on to the second season because there will be a bit more time jumps. They do stand alone quite well thankfully.

You'll see many scenes like these throughout the show

As for the animation itself, it looks good, very flowery with pale colours, perfect for the moments when they need it. This is created by Studio Deen, so I saw many similarities of these characters with Elie from Rave Master, which I didn't mind. I did notice some differences between episodes, but the quality is consistent enough since it's a short series. The DVDs are in Japanese only, but they do provide you with two sets of subtitles, one normal and the other is where they keep all the honorific. I find the second set to be more logical, because you keep seeing "Lady Sachiko" in place of "Sachiko-sama" in the first set... I loved the extras too, a very humourous take on some of the episodes, a hit and miss for some, but cute overall!
Oppai-makura!

I am fairly addicted to this series. I truly am a yuri maniac. Aside from my warning about the series, it's highly recommended. And now more pictures! I took over 100 screenshots after all!


SPOILER ALERT...
Not too much, but some screens are taken from later in the series.


Yumi gets teased a lot about her face because she always shows her emotions on it.
Yes, Yumi, your face TOTALLY lacks composure!


Silly Yoshino, you can't beat Yumi in the funny face department!

Call me 'mistress'... er I mean onee-sama.

Rosa Gigantea, Sei Sato, is one of my favourite characters, especially because she's always teasing Yumi to get a rise out of her and Sachiko.
Oh no, please do... don't mind us...

Sei Sato makes my Rosa Gigantea, if you know what I mean...

Sachiko in kindergarten... so cute, just like a Nendoroid, but wow she's so stern even when she's in kindergarten!

Hmm... what? No, I didn't really have a reason why I took this screenshot. Why do you ask?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yuiko Kurugaya from Little Busters

Toys Works 1/8 Yuiko Kurugaya

I've seen a lot of Little Busters merchandise lately and they are looking good. Just like this Yuiko figure... She's a completely impulse purchase. I knew I've seen her before and I really like her design and sexy pose, but I had no idea who she is. I knew nothing about the Little Busters series except that it's a computer game (the eroge kind) and it was made by Visual Art's/Key, the same creator of Clannad, Air and Kanon. I wasn't planning to buy any more figures of series that I didn't know about, but I was given a pretty good deal for her even... and the rest is history, which you can read below.

I thought I shouldn't be buying too many figures that is risque, but she's irresistable, maybe it is the risque factor that made me buy her. Other figures of her also had her shirt unbuttoned without a bra like this as well... so I had no choice really.

I've had figures from Toys Works before, they weren't too bad. I did prefer this version better than the one Kotobukiya released. Though I didn't like how her left bosom is squished like that... I know it's plastic and they can't help it but sculpt it that way, but it's so obvious.

Ah, stockinged feet, I love it! ...yea, it's confirmed, I do have a minor foot fetish -_-

Another Shana look-a-like shot, especially with that sword in her hand. The ribbon makes her look like the long-haired Haruhi though. The hair sculpt is very detailed. A major plus for long haired characters!

Her hand looks a bit strange though. It's suppose to make her look like she's lifting her skirt, but somehow it doesn't seem to be attached. It looks better in this picture though.

Her eyes is too shiny compared to her hair. They made it look like just a sticker being stuck onto her face. Very minor complaint though. Besides I don't really pay attention to those pair of eyes. ^^;

Gratitious panty shot! I don't really like the flattened body parts so that she's stable on the base... But I pretty much explained why it's flattened.

Gotta take advantage of that mirror base. This is a better view of her face since the mirror is reflecting the light from above towards her face. The picture above make it as if she's staring at my website ^^

Pretty good figure overall, especially for an impulse buy. I'm happy with it, especially since I got a pretty good discount for it. Oh and this is the first time I'm posting a lot of pictures ever since I found out how to show only the preview of the blog post and when someone click on it they can read more of it. So look forward for posts with more pictures!

A more subtle panty shot ^^;

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yuri Mania 1

Gokigenyou minna-san. I've been addicted to Maria-sama ga Miteru (MariMite) recently. I've started to watch the first season a few months ago in one sitting. Not only did I watch it in one day, but I rewatched it again at the same night! There were just so many characters that were introduced in the beginning that I wanted to understand more about them after watching the whole season.

Then I finished the second season a few weeks ago and loved every bit of it. It was somewhat painful to watch because the situation seemed so similar to something that happened to me. So I didn't rewatch it yet, but I did rewatch the first season again after that XD
Michiru and Haruka with lily flowers. How appropriate.

Anyway this Yuri Mania of mine all started from the "partnership" of Sailor Neptune and Uranus from Sailor Moon S. Heck I bought the DVDs just to watch them. Unfortunately I don't really remember what happened there since it was a generic monster-of-the-week show... Eye candy really, but it was the first yuri that I've encountered and wanted to watch.

Cute cosplay couple. I love their tights.

Over the years I've kept looking for more anime with yuri couples and references. Thankfully there are enough of them being made to keep my interest in it alive. So since this is titled #1, I will post more about yuri and "Lily" from time to time. Enjoy the other pictures I found from Gelbooru.com.

Uranus and Neptune kissing. Drawn by S2X from the looks of it. Lots and lots of hentai on that site!

Wow! Uranus and Neptune cosplayers kissing! Compare it to the one above. Which one do you like better?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Enmai Ai, the Hell Girl

Alter 1/8 Enma Ai

Confession time... I've never seen Jigoku Shoujo aka Hell Girl at all. I've read the first volume of the manga and was quite bored with it after a few stories. The concept is so easily repetitive. I'm sure ever story is different, but I don't have the time or money for it. With that out of the way let's move on to the figure.

This figure was one of the ones that I bought without knowing the series... but those eyes, that face, those bare feet... I must have her! And I was not disappointed. She looks great.

Such cute feet! Am I developing a foot fetish??

I love this base. It's quite a change from all those circular bases I see for other sitting figures. I think Alter is great at making different bases. I haven't been disappointed by Alter at all. The straw doll is not much of an accessory though, but then again I'm not a big fan of tiny loose accessories anyway. They're cool, but I'd rather have them attached than losing them somewhere.

Her eyes here have a very shoujo manga look at this angle.

Of course since she's 1/8 scale, she's very tiny. I don't mind since that'll save some room. Even her box is quite small. It was well worth it since I wanted this figure at first sight. This was also the first time I'm taking pictures with a tripod... yeah, where have I been? XD It was because my brother got a tripod this Christmas, so I'll try it out for him ^_^ I took lots of photos of her because of this. I would've posted more pictures, but I held back.

Shana?

Gotta have a shot of those white pantsu ^^;

The return of the mirror base!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Coloured Bunny Girl Mikuru

Art by Yakuri-Moe
Coloured by Lightning Sabre

My first Photoshop line art colouring project is finally done and even approved! This Bunnygirl Mikuru was beautifully drawn by Yaku and posted on Halloween of last year at DannyChoo.com. I spent about 6-7 hours colouring from December 23rd to 24th. Surprisingly it didn't take me as long as I thought it might've been, so I've delayed the project until I had enough time to do it over the 2 weeks off I had from my office.

The first obstacle I had was that I only had the low resolution art from DannyChoo.com... Darkening the lines was priority, but then the gray pixels started showing up, ah such a pain. It's not too bad though since the line art was pretty clean in the first place ^_^

Then I was stuck... where do I start colouring. Easiest part was the bunny ears. So red and I also added dark red for shading (which is the only place I shaded lol). Oh and I also read somewhere in Newtype that one of the popular artists in Japan created a layer of colour in Photoshop so that he can use that colour over and over again. I don't remember who it was though, okama or Range Murata, not sure. You can see my palette below.

Looks very ghostly, eh?

Ok after the ears I have to move to the bigger parts... then I realize I should've closed some of the gaps which made colouring so much easier. The eyes are very cute, but a bit difficult to colour because I could never draw anime eyes before in the first place, let alone colouring it, so I went and surf the net for eye colour references for Mikuru. I also realized something as I was looking through the pictures. She needs a star-shaped mole on her chest! It was good I looked around first. Oh and here's a secret... I know how to make a star in Macs using Zapf Dingbats, but for the life of me I couldn't make one in PC, so that's actually an asterisk lol.

After much of the colouring was done I decided on the stocking which was surprisingly easy to do, so I challenged myself. I was in over my head though... Fishnet stocking, which is what I wanted to do when I first seen this art. I had no idea how to do it. I was a total nub at colouring and drawing. I can probably do it outside the computer, but how the hell do I do it in Photoshop?? This is the result which involved a lot of duplications and memory eating on my computer. It was sluggish as hell XD What do you think of the result?

The last few details is a bit of a shine on her hair which I've seen a lot in anime arts. If I had a tablet I can probably do it better. Using mouse is hell for this btw. Oh and some art also has these reddish shine on their knees and joints. I duplicated that effect here. I showed this to my friend, who doesn't looks at a lot of anime art, and he asked me why her knees are bruised... I explained that it's one of the anime styles. Then I sorta realize what he may have implied with the knees, carpet burn perhaps? XD

I also made a couple of variations because I can play around with the Photoshop layers :P I need to learn shading for sure... I just don't understand how lighting and shading works, thus why there's no shading here, except for a few parts.

Bare legs!

White Bunny Suit variation

So a first (somewhat) successful colouring project done. Hopefully this won't be the last because it was quite fun. I'll be working on Mikuru here and there though since I'm an editing fiend!Special thanks to Yaku for supplying the great art and the approval ^^