My next review is a Manga only work that shows a unique relationship between it's Gender Swap victims, this is Mahou Shounen Majorian.
Iori is a timid, feminine boy. Masaru is an aggressive boy who leads the other boys in bullying Iori. One day, they encounter a pair of strange extraterrestrial bunnies who turn them into magical girls in order to fight aliens that are invading their town but Masaru isn't totally on board with being turned into a girl but is given no choice when the only way to turn back is to beat the aliens together with Iori.
Now there are factors in this show to consider, the first one being that the boys are young say about 8-10 years old at most and they are being transformed into I guess 16 year old teenage girls judging by their Magical Girl forms.
Now the main premise is that Masaru bullies Iori for acting girly, so the situation of the alien invasion and the Magical Girl stuff gives him a taste of what it feels to be an actual girl while Iori doesn't seem to mind being a girl at all. It really gives interesting takes on how two different types of personalities take to being turned into a girl.
The overall message the manga is obviously trying to give is that you shouldn't bully males who are more feminine by nature just because the norm is to be tough, like sport and I guess in some circles be an obnoxious jerk. In forcing Masaru to work with Iori both as girls forces the two to bond together, while Masaru tries to resist fiercely as it breaks apart his whole persona as a school bully but eventually by the end he respects Iori for who he is and that's quite a powerful message. It's actually quite surprising how little this manga is used to promote zero tolerance on bullying.
As this is Manga only, obviously no Anime.
Final Verdict: An obscure title that has deeper meanings you need to search for in order to appreciate the message it's delivering but it requires patience and a lot of digging up through Manga Scan sites to achieve that, otherwise study Japanese and find the Manga yourself.
My next review following the Gender Swap theme is Otoboku ~Maidens are Falling for me~
Mizuho is a very feminine looking male teenager who by virtue of his grandfather's last will, is requested to attend Seio Private Girl's Academy; to avoid the obvious problem of him being male, his childhood friend Mariya dresses him in the female uniform and teaches him how to act more like a lady, however things take an interesting turn when Mizuho gets nominated as the school's Older Sister, a title given to a figurehead student who promotes wisdom and virtue within the school which presents it's own problems including grabbing the unwanted attention of student council president Takako. Oh and this is originally a hentai game.
It maybe a hentai game originally but like Happy Lesson, when you take the adult content away you actually have a very charming story, if you showed anyone a still image from this anime you would have no idea that Mizuho is male, in fact just using the picture I got, try and find him; and that's kind of the point of his character.
Through just being himself, even in a female disguise he wins over the entire school just by being kind, thoughtful and understanding in every situation he's in, yeah inevitably the ending will always be him being discovered as a male it's kind of a guarantee with this genre but the ending doesn't feel bitter sweet as a result, and while the anime chose to focus on a love triangle developing between Mizuho, Mariya and Takako, the games take a look from the perspective of all the female characters and even the less focused ones in the anime get decent screen time.
There's no dub but it works better without it.
Now before I sign off on my conclusion I'd like to talk serious for a moment.
There are a few moments within Otoboku that struck a chord with me, mostly based around the subject of forcing to conform to a code based on someone's subjective opinion rather than the official rules. But looking at a character like Mizuho is a reminder that not all males are built to like sport and be strong, men can be kind and sensitive just as much as a woman can without losing any worth as a male, in fact Mizuho is a hero for putting his male pride second over the worth and feelings of a bunch of girls who would tear him to pieces the moment they discover he's male under that girl's uniform. Remember that he chose to do this because he loved and respected his family, granted he was androgynous looking enough to pass for a female with ease but it still takes a lot of courage to go through all that and succeed, in all scenarios Mizuho graduates and ends up with the girl that's picked and that's after he's revealed as male; in the end his closest female friends are shocked but ultimately don't care because he's changed their outlooks on life for the better, that is a strong male character and it's sad that there isn't more like him.
Final Verdict: For what was originally a hentai game, Otoboku manages to be a decent enough watch for any anime fan, it's just long enough to not out stay it's welcome and the characters don't easily fall into cliche traps that normally affect their archetype. It's not for everyone, the sudden chibis are distracting and the story does come off as weak but the stuff it does really well shines brightly.
Now I'm going to review a few anime that have the theme of Gender Swap, now there is a reason to this which I will bring up as I go through these reviews; as I'm away from Thursday night to Monday night this will not be a week long feature. Starting off the reviews is Kampfer.
Natsuru Seno is a boy with an obsession over the school's beauty Kaede Sakura, but his life ultimately gets turned upside down when a grotesque stuffed animal gives Natsuru a bracelet that forcibly transforms him into a Kampfer, female warriors fated to battle each other using a wide variety of abilities such as guns, swords and pyrokinesis that Natsuru uses, and yes I said female warrior as Natsuru is now a girl as a result. Along with other Kampfers, Shizuku, Akane and Mikoto, Natsuru tries to work out why they all got dragged into this battle with Natsuru ending up becoming a harem protagonist to all the other girls.
I find it ironic in this situation that the most popular girl in the school is a guy who's been transformed into a girl.
First off I have a lot of issues with Kaede Sakura, I'm not a great lover of psycho lesbian types if viewers remember my worst girls to have in a harem list a few months back. Equally the other characters don't make it any easier to like this series. So going back to the elephant in the room that is Natsuru, being honest this show didn't need the Gender Swap theme in the first place, it's so focused on giving us a yuri/fan service show with the amount of situations Natsuru gets into that the main point of the show is kinda lost in the wave of vivid colorful ecchiness.
The gratuitous German doesn't make this show any easier to understand, nor does the strange taste in stuffed animal mascots. No dub which I'm thankful for because it would be terrible.
Final Verdict: The plot may have worked if they stuck to it but with unlikable characters and focus on ecchiness over action, it just falls into a disarray that never recovers.
I've always wanted to watch this anime for a long time now and finally it's in the UK on TV so lets see if Doraemon lives up to being the treasure of Japanese Anime.
Doraemon is a blue robot cat created in future Japan and sent back in time by inventor Nobita Nobi to help his younger self achieve a more successful life as his child self is a complete utter loser. As this is an extremely long running anime, a typical episode centers around some issue involving Nobi that gets solved by a gadget from Doraemon's hammer space pockets, he also has a time machine, however not much really changes between episodes, that's pretty much the plot for the most famous anime in Japan. Pity it's just a Japanese Charlie Brown which I despise.
I'm going to speak seriously for a minute, I don't like Charlie Brown because Charlie Brown is a total loser and nothing about him is even remotely likable much in the same way I don't like anything about Nobita Nobi for the same reasons, so you look at the two animal characters that do make the show bearable which are Snoopy and Doraemon respectively; the show should really be them on their own because they can make a good show solo. I would take a hundred episodes of Doraemon the Blue Robot Cat on his own helping random people over Nobita Nobi any day.
Now I know some people grew up on Charlie Brown and Doraemon but I'm not one of those people, being from the UK I didn't have either shows, Charlie Brown was strictly limited to cable channels and Doraemon I only got today, yeah you heard me, Doraemon only premiered in the UK today at time of writing.
I understand that something that's such a key part of growing up should be considered memorable and close to one's heart but on the opposite end of the scale Doraemon doesn't really do anything new or really encourage me to sit through hundreds of episodes, the blue robot cat is still fun on his own and if he did everything on his own it would be something amazing but having such a complete loser as the main character and whole point of the plot, all I'm watching is a Japanese Charlie Brown which I already hate.
The dub I watch is British and borrows from the same cast as Inazuma Eleven so is surprisingly well done. The American dub I've been told is pretty decent as well.
Final Verdict: I understand it's significance to Japanese youth but being a British youth I don't really rate it that highly because I didn't have the luxury of growing up with it, much in the same way as Charlie Brown. I realize that's a weak argument but I really can't make myself like Doraemon.
My final review on Shojo week is RWBY, while not a Shojo series per-say it does bring to the table the type of female characters that girls should really like rather than what the toy companies think you should like.
This impressive web series is about an academy called Beacon for hunters and huntresses of the "Creatures of Grimm" the main enemy of the RWBY universe; the characters we focus on are Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long as they fight to destroy the Creatures of Grimm while pursuing their own personal goals and objectives.
If this is known for anything it has to be the insanely awesome fight scenes, choreographed to perfection well played out by the four leading ladies. You have great comedy from the same group that made Red vs Blue, you have characters that would feel right at home in an anime universe, the soundtrack is addictive and suits the setting and while you do get the obvious pitfalls of doing this as a web series, I'll let it slide as the art style suits it and I'd take this over the garbage certain networks are digging up that do get big company funding any day.
Being honest, there's nothing RWBY have brought to the table that's any different to the likes of Soul Eater or even high school shows but it's not important, everyone saw how awesome the four trailers were at the beginning and everyone wants to see where it goes. You can forget Elsa the Snow Queen, if you want real strong female characters take a page out of the book of RWBY.
Final Verdict: It's done everything right and keeps enticing me to keep going after season one. Living proof that you can make strong female characters.
RIP - Monty Oum, "thank you for being awesome"