02 Feb 2007

Current / recent viewing

Anime

I started this post a while ago as a “catch-all” for series that I’m watching. It’s probably time to move it out of drafts and start a new one.

Current:

Red Garden. (Subbed by Kaze-no-Koe/Shinsen (eps 1-5) and Shinsen-subs (eps 6+))

I don’t like the art style. I’m probably in a minority there, but I think the characters are quite ugly. I’ve seen several mangas with similar styles, and I don’t like them, either. The art looks like it’s supposed to be more realistic, but to me it’s more like moving caricatures.

Still, that’s a personal gripe. I can tolerate it, and the story has been very interesting for the first 13 episodes. A very minor spoiler here, revealed in the first episode: [spoiler /mild spoiler/ /hide spoiler/] You have to find find it intriguing when, at the end of the first episode, the four girls who are the main characters discover that they are dead.[/spoiler] Though the story has been a bit slow moving so far, it’s held my interest. I don’t expect it to make the “current obsessions” list.

Unusually, it’s set in New York instead of Japan, though it still has the high-school cliché. Some of the action seems more Japanese than American, but it mostly works. Relationships (including individuals and couples well past high school age) are believable. One whiny girl is really getting on my nerves – but she’s getting on the nerves of the other three.

At episode 13, we can’t really be sure that “our” girls are on the right side of the fight – except that we know the other side are killers. It seems both sides are pretty evil, but what they’re doing is still very cloudy. Hervé’s being voiced by Koyasu Takehito makes it very difficult for me not to see him as a villain – he’s Touga in Revoutionary Girl Utena.

The series seems to have huge potential, if it will start moving now that it’s at (I assume) the halfway mark. The writers don’t strike me as being likely to give us a predictable or unsatisfactory conclusion.

I dislike the introductory animation, and absolutely loathe the ending for the first few episodes (it changes at 11 or so, though the new one isn’t much better). Not in the same class of unwatchable squick as Strawberry Panic‘s ending, but pretty bad nonetheless.

I always like to watch the previews. I had to stop doing that with Elfen Lied because they were such heavy spoilers, but Red Garden has a nice amount of mystery, interesting scenes and no real information. I like that.

Simoun

Yes, I know, I keep coming back to Simoun, but I’ve now seen the final episode. I’m not going to comment more until Simoun-Fans’s sub is complete, but I have to say it’s a great series. I need to find some discussion threads to see how well my understanding of it gibes with others’.

Azumanga Daioh

Maybe the most pointless anime I’ve yet seen (except for Neon Genesis Evangelion, of course). Goes nowhere, just vignettes in the lives of a few high school girls (sound familiar?). No story. No plot.

And hugely fun.

It’s childish, touching, funny and sweet, and I’ve really been enjoying watching it. There’s just not much good that you can say about it; it’s the telling, not the tale that’s so enjoyable. On, and the ending song, “Rasperry Heaven,” is lovely.

Completed:

Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie. I didn’t think it likely that the movie would be stranger than the series, but I was wrong. It was an interesting retelling – clearly quite different in setting and history, yet very much the same story. Ambiguous ending, but in a completely different way from the series. I think it would have made even less sense without having first seen the series – the cameo of Chu Chu and the Nanami-cow not affecting that either way.

Himemiya had a more interesting personality this time, though I thought Utena was less so.

Chrono Crusade – update as I watch more. I started watching this only because of the opening song, “Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line” (sung by Kuribayashi Minami, several of whose songs I like). Nothing much special in the premise so far – exorcism = blowing away demons with holy-water-imbued bullets – but the “good demon” and the nun’s demonic pact make it a little different. I’ll see where it goes.

(Note: though I’ve already written this up, I’m leaving my old entry in place to remind myself of how different my early reactions were from those after I’d finished watching.)

Stellvia of the Universe. Sometime in the 22nd century, the Earth was almost destroyed by the radiation front of a nearby supernova. Nearly two hundred years later, the matter front, travelling at 1/10 C, will finish the job, if a series of space stations can’t shield the planet.

Not bad physics for a sci-fi anime, though why the pilots are teenage recruits, and mainly girls, is a question only the anime gods can answer.

Later reaction: it lived up to its early promise, though the physics was shakier than it appeared at the start. OK, the light / matter influx from the supernova were fairly believable – but then the pilots joust their trainer spaceships at huge relative velocities, and just bounce off each other. Oh, and there’s a giant fighting robot. I don’t like mecha in general, and when they’re only used to satisfy the cliché it just annoys me.

The main character is quite annoying. How many times is it possible to come out with a world-saving solution to a problem, only to go back to wallowing in self-pity? Not as many as Shima does, certainly. And her romance with Kouta has all the embarrassment and avoidance of the issue that I dislike about generic anime boy-girl relationships. She’s completely in awe of his brilliance, even though she’s the one that keeps saving the day.

However, the solutions themselves are well-done. There’s about the right level of angst, except when Shima gets into her self-loathing. As a space opera, it’s nicely handled. And as far as romances go, the two secondary ones are much more interesting. Akira / Joy (the tallest girl, who’s quiet and serious and the shortest boy, who’s also the class clown) almost makes the series worthwhile by itself. And the last minute confession in the final episode… [spoiler /Guess who?/ /Hide spoiler/] of Ayaka and Yayoi (both girls) for each other is quite lovely. Especially the chorus of jealousy from all the boys.[/spoiler]

One other annoyance about the show, but I’ll need to hide it behind a tag, even though the outcome is hardly a surprise.

[spoiler /Ending spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] This isn’t a show that you’d expect to have a sad ending, and it doesn’t. Everything works out for the best, and it isn’t really a surprise – however, throughout the last episode, everyone’s talking about what will happen after they’ve succeeded. Not if they succeeded, when. Maybe it could have worked as bravado, but it didn’t have that feel. Instead, it was a huge tension let down. 20 minutes of “everything’s going to be fine.” That was the one point in the series where it really needed extra drama, and the writers let us down. I can’t see the point.[/spoiler]

This is definitely a keeper, and one I’ll probably buy eventually (I rented it from Greencine). The flaws are minor, and the story’s something that can certainly stand re-watching.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 2nd, 2007 at 4:55 pm and is filed under Anime. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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