Chi’s sweet adventures Vol 1

chiis
[originally posted on UK-anime network]
Kanata Konami’s Chi’s Sweet Home first premiered in manga form in 2004. This is the story of a small kitten and her adventures and interactions with both her adopted human family, the Yamada’s, and the other felines that inhabit her neighbourhood. Who could have imagined the original story would result in 3 animated adaptations and this sequel manga, published once more in English by Vertical.

Ever inquisitive (and forever getting in trouble for it) Chi’s adventures are split into separate standalone chapters, with each formatted into a 4 panel style called “4 Koma” (a surprisingly old format that this reviewer sees being used far less these days), we follow Chi and the Yamada’s through their everyday lives, all the while seeing things from Chi’s unique cat perspective. This ranges from visiting a forest park, to Chi learning how to act like a cat from fellow felines – the older Blackie and a stray black and white cat that tries to act tough – but secretly enjoys Chi’s company.

The artwork, while basic, benefits from being excessively cluttered – a benefit considering that this series is intended ideally for a younger audience. Also, the writing is of a level ideal for a younger reader to follow along with little help – great for those wanting to introduce manga to younger relatives.

If I had any complaint about the series it’s that, as a continuation of Konami ‘s previous series, the reader is expected to know both the situation and the backgrounds of the characters, with no introductory text to introduce them. That results in the first-time reader largely left wondering who each of the side characters are and how they know Chi.

As a result, Chi’s sweet adventure is a mixed bag – on one hand its innocent family friendly escapades will be ideal for young readers or those less enamoured with more violent works. However, with its simplistic art style and self-contained, drama-free plotlines, it may deter those people looking for more substantial work.

kikis delivery service [novel]

kikis cover

When Walt Disney in the US [and Studiocanal in the UK] released Studio Ghibis 1989 classic “Majo no Takkyūbin” [literally “Witches delivery service”] to a western audience the response was overwhelmingly positive , with  even oft-time critical review site Rotten tomatoes declaring it “a heartwarming, gorgeously-rendered tale of a young witch discovering her place in the world.

However, while some may have known that this film was based on a series of children’s novels by Eiko Kadono – not many would have known that it had had a brief, English language release!

This single volume release, published in 2003 by Canadian publisher Annick Press under the westernised name of Kikis delivery service, starts off as per the movie – Kiki, a newly fledged witch, leaves her family and home to find herself a new place in the bigger world, eventually arriving in the small town of Koriko where, in-between developing her magical arts further, makes a living as a titular Delivery service.

However thats where the similarities between the book and the film pretty much end.
In the original book Kiki never loses her powers, nor does she have to rescue a runaway Dirigible [both of which were the creation Of Hayo Miyazaki for the film version, which Kadano was massively unhappy about, at one point threatening to have the entire project scrapped because of it, with only hurried negotiations by Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki saving the film].

Instead what we get is more a series of standalone stories, from a visit to the beach, to an accidental discovery of a new form of music – even a novel use for a woolen tummy warmer – however we never really get more than a brief glimpse of the world of kikis – why is magic hereditary? Where is the town of Kokori?

The artstyle [drawn by Akiko Hayashi] may put off some more used to Ghiblis version of kiki and yet i would say that they, rather than subtract from it its adds all the more to the book as we get to see a more truer idea of Kadano’s vision for her characters – it also make a relieving change for anyone tired of yet another moe looking magical girl image.

The writing also betrays the intended target audience, with its truncated plot, limited world building and simpler writing prose showing it to intended for a younger reading age [about 8-10]. Likewise the side characters themselves seem limited in their details, mostly being there to advance the plot or to weave said plot around – even Tombo, who played such a major role in the movie, only appears in three of the ten chapters of this novel, and often only briefly to aid Kiki, with a brief hint of a crush on her on the final chapter – presumably to be continued in later volumes.

And that brings us to a major problem – in Japan there are a total of 6 volumes in the series, yet as of this post only one was ever published by Annick press during the tenure of the publishing licence they held from 2003 to 2008 . I contacted Annick press to find out why, but their Representative was unable to give me an answer.

Yet there is still hope for this series – unlike back in the early 2000’s the rise of crowdfunded projects, and the increasing interest in licencing novels by Western manga companies has given otherwise obscure series the chance to be seen by a western audience – so who knows? maybe, with enough fan interest or the right company,  one day a certain little witch and her cat from Kokori town will fly their way back to our shores yet again.

Kikis delivery service was released in Hardback by Annick press however,as previously stated, the series has since been out of print for about 10  years, so this will require some legwork to conjure up a copy  of your own.

however, if your willing to splah the dosh for a copy of your, then i would appreciate if you were to use my new Amazon affiliate page below –
Kiki’s Delivery Service

Busou Shinki armoured war goddess

busou shinki case

Oft times the release of a new anime series can be a major gamble not just for the original rights holders but also for the anime studio creating it, and more so if that series is based on a toy or game line and is intended as a display for said line.

Case In point Busou Shinki armoured war goddess.

This 2012, 12 episode series from studio 8-Bit [of Infinite stratos and recently Rewrite fame] is based around the aforementioned Busou Shinki line – a series of poseable figures produced by Konami that had a media tie in line-up from comics to statues to even its own online combat game series Called Battle rondo [imagine Angelic Layer but on the PSP and you get the idea].

The series itself is set in the year 2036 where Rihito, a young high school boy who lives alone in his own apartment – alone apart from his three Shinkis – happy go lucky Ann, tusndere Ines, the ever calm and homely Lene and the newest arrival grim and determined Hina.

The animation itself is more than serviceable, with clear backgrounds and attention to detail both to the character themselves but also to their interactions with said backgrounds – no clippings or badly done work here. However, while the series hints at a more expansive and in some cases darker world [in one episode the subject of Shinki’s being used as terrorists, whilst another touches on the subject of the fate of Shinkis who are either abandoned or lose their owners] that’s all we get – just hints – with each episode effectively acting as a stand alone with little connection to each other [with the exception however of the last 2 episodes].

SHINKI 1

Also we get to the fly in the ointment – namely Konami, the rights holder for Busou Shinki. While no-one can be certain of the official chain of events one thread that some accept is that, after a tweet from someone working on the anime stating that Konami had difficulty with the production of the figures, the line had been rapidly pulled so that, by the time the series had originally aired in Japan, the Shinki toyline had been cancelled completely!

So where does this leave this series? Well, while it achieves its intended goal of introducing the Shinki toy line and acting as an advertisement for the toy line [and giving a tip to the hat to the ardent Shinki toy collectors] on its own however it comes across as a less than stellar entry in the “cute robot girls doing cute things” that other series have done before and in some cases [such as the recently aired Frame arms girls anime, itself a tie in to a model line by figure company Kotobukya] have done much better.

Busou Shinki armoured war goddess was released on DVD, Blu ray and streaming via the HIDIVE service from Sentai filmworks  for the US, on DVD and bluray in the UKvia 
MVM – and via my own amazon affiliate page below:
Busou Shinki: Armored War Goddess Collection [DVD] [2017]