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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.

28 Jan 2007

Chrno Crusade

Anime

(a.k.a Chrono Crusade.) I’ve been watching this for a while, but got interrupted by EQ2. Now I’ve finished it. I’d planned just to list it among “misc. animes” in a wrap-up post sometime, but in the end I was surprised. I’ll add more about that behind a more tag.

What’s worth noting is that it does have a touching boy-girl romance that isn’t played (much) for embarrassment and avoidance. Though the girl is the series’ protag, and the boy is an ancient demon…

The first half is pure action, with the heroine blowing up demons and creating havoc, and some hints of a mystery. The second half is very intense, with a theology so twisted that you have to wonder why they would even claim that it’s based on Catholicism, but which nevertheless is fairly consistent and leads to a very dark story.

One of the four main characters (Azmaria) is played by Saeko Chiba, who’s also Natsuki in Mai HiME / Mai Otome. In this, she’s a young girl – I don’t know if we know exactly how old, but I’d guess about 12. I’m impressed at Chiba’s skill at voicing the deep-voiced, confident Natsuki and the little girl Azmaria. As Azmaria, she has to persuade us that she has a child’s singing voice so beautiful it shows the divine – and she does (though her English accent is pretty bad).

She also sings the closing theme, partnered with my music idol, Kajiura Yuki. That’s a song that didn’t impress me immediately, but grew on me through the series – beautiful, quiet, and powerfully poignant. More about that below the tag.

It was music that got me into the series – Tsubasa wa Pleasure Line by Kuribayashi Minami, who sang some of the best songs in Mai HiME (and played Erstin in Mai Otome). I heard it on animenfo radio, and that led me to see what the series was like that it introduced.

Beyond that, I can’t really say anything without getting into very heavy spoilers. Even whether I’d recommend the series.

Update: After a couple of days’ contemplation – yeah, I’d have to say I would recommend it. It’s definitely one of the best series I’ve seen, though it certainly has predictable ideas in a genre that I think is weak and overused.

So, here goes. Beyond this point lie spoilers.

(more…)

22 Jan 2007

Out from under – for a time.

Anime, Writing

I’ve managed to evade the grip of EverQuest II somewhat for the last few days. Since writing the short story, that is.

I don’t seem to do well at handling life without an active obsession, but reworking the story as much as it needs has provided that. And rather than go back to EQ2 when I’m done with a revision session, I’ve been using the break to catch up on Simoun. The fine folks at Simoun-Fans are now up to episode 23 – only 3 left. ‘Course, that’s only 7 further on from where we were when I last obsessed over the series, so I’m still going to have a long, painful wait after I get up to 23.

I started over from the beginning, because I’d forgotten so much, and it really is a good series. [spoiler /Slight spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] I do find myself a little depressed after episode 19. Not saying more, even behind a spoiler tag.[/spoiler] My gripe about the music persists. It’s so completely inappropriate.

About the short story – currently titled “The Scent of Petunias” – I’m at the stage with it where I can’t decide if I should really hate it. This always happens, and I find it extremely stressful. It happens right after I decide that a story / section is good enough to get critiqued, and before I get much serious feedback. I haven’t been able to name the feeling. It’s not exactly embarrassment that I’m showing the story around. It’s more an extremely strong apprehensiveness about the potential for embarrassment.

I feel very much the same if I make a controversial post to a public forum. It isn’t a rational fear – but most of my fears aren’t rational anyway, so it isn’t anything new.

In this case, I love the concept. I think that for the most part I’ve done it justice, but then I read a section and it seems incredibly amateurish, so I fix it, then find another – and soon I’m worrying not about whether the writing is any good, but whether I’ve edited out all of the feeling in my constant changes. And whether it’s worth even close to this level of effort, for only 25 pages.

But then, I approach a short story very differently from The Book. When I write something short, I’m looking for a mood rather than a narrative – and that’s another thing I get anxious over, because I wonder if the mood is overdone, and whether it always seems to be the same from story to story… I can certainly tell the difference between tone between this short story and The Book, but I’m not sure if it’s much different from the last serious attempt I made at a short story.

What I will say is I enjoyed the process enough to try working on some others. I have several ideas that just may be viable, though most tend to be “hey, that’s a neat concept – but where’s the story?”

It’s also fueled my motivation to work on the online project I mentioned a while back. But I have to get some other starter stories for that before I can take it anywhere.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun

28 Oct 2006

Discovering Noir

Anime

It wasn’t long ago that I had no clue what anime was.

Well, I knew it was a Japanese cartoon form. My kids have watched the various duelling animes over the years, Pokemon and the like. I never considered it as an entertainment medium that could do more than replace American-style animal cartoons with badly drawn kids yelling at each other.

I think it was in 2004 that Cartoon Network showed .Hack//SIGN. I caught a little of it. Not enough to understand what was going on – but enough to find it beginning to hold my interest. I rented the series one DVD at a time from GreenCine. In fact, I think it was the reason I opened my GreenCine account.

When I started to understand the story, I found it fascinating. When I realized that it expanded into a PS/2 video game, I played the game through. I watched the four episode OVA that is included with the game.

All in all, the whole .Hack multimedia experience is highly absorbing, especially for someone who was a massively multiplayer gaming addict. All of the components bind together and build on each other, which is something I’ve never seen elsewhere.

I realized that there was something to anime beyond cute monsters beating the snot out of each other. I watched other series, including Neon Genesis Evangelion, which almost cured me of ever wanting to watch anime again. Fortunately, I also saw enough of Cowboy Bebop to know that there were series with interesting, ideosyncratic characters and plots, with stories that could be light-hearted or deeply moving.

I listened to soundtrack music, which can be extremely good. From the .Hack series, and especially .Hack//Liminality, the OVAs that accompany the game, I discovered the music of Kajiura Yuki. I bought the soundtrack CDs, and am still enthralled by them. I wanted to hear more, and I’ve made a point of seeking out series that use her music.

One of those was a “girls with guns” anime named Noir. It didn’t look especially interesting, but it was Kajiura’s first major anime, so it seemed to be a good place to start. And GreenCine is ideal for movies that may or may not be of interest.

I’m not sure that the anime itself had me hooked immediately. I think it took a couple of episodes for that. Actually, I think it was the “popcorn” scene in episode 3. But the music – from the moment the haunting music box theme morphs into the backdrop for a high-energy dance of death, with Kirika killing everyone in sight, without losing the mystical feel of the music box – you know that this is something special. Those Noir tracks are still those I like the best among my Kajiura collection.

It doesn’t take long before the emotional impact of the series catches up with the effect of the music. I didn’t rent more than three DVDs from GreenCine, because I had already decided that I needed to own them. It didn’t matter that I half-expected to hate the ending; I had to buy the set, and I’ve now watched it many times, dubbed and subtitled.

I doubt that I will ever find a series that I enjoy more than Noir, or that has as much of an impact on me. If I were to define what I believe to be the best show I’ve ever seen, I’d have a hard time choosing between: the BBC production of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Babylon 5; and Noir.

Though I don’t expect another anime ever to topple Noir from its top place in my personal listings, the series showed me that it’s possible for the medium to transcend the kids’ cartoon – in many ways.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
(writing) “Skeptics” project

26 Oct 2006

Elfen Lied – Complete

Anime

[spoiler /Moderate spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] Alright, I like ambiguous endings, but – good grief! Still, I’ve invented one I like, and given that, I think it was quite satisfying.[/spoiler]

Looks like this won’t drop off the obsessions list for a few days, anyway. Definitely recommended – if you don’t mind nudity and extreme violence in anime, and if you can tolerate a fair few anime cliches.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
Elfen Lied
(writing) “Skeptics” project

18 Oct 2006

Trivia

Anime

I’m rewatching Strawberry Panic!. On second viewing, I see that there’s foreshadowing. Not subtle (which would be unexpected for this series), but moving nonetheless. [spoiler /Foreshadowing – ending spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] Suzumi Tamao’s poem about hopeless devotion to an unreachable rainbow is clearly predicting her unrequited love for Aoi Nagisa.[/spoiler]

I found a review of Erementar Gerad at the Anime News Network. No, I’m not still obsessing, but I am trying to find details of the soundtrack, and I stumbled across this. It’s a good review. Basically condemns the show – for all the right reasons – and says why it’s still so much fun. It’s true. This is definitely not one of the world’s great series, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable to watch. I’d also agree that while Ren is cute, she really is far too withdrawn to be an interesting lead. She acquires something of a personality later in the series, but good grief, let her at least open those unfocused eyes occasionally. “Coud” is sometimes the only word she seems capable of saying. [spoiler /Mild spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] And both she and Coud give up on each other far too often. Happening once is required by the cliché, but this gets old.[/spoiler]

All things considered, it really is surprising that Erementar Gerad is fun to watch.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
Elfen Lied

17 Oct 2006

Erementar Gerad – Complete

Anime

Postponing the last four episodes was definitely a good idea. It would have been hard to take a break between them. Yeah, okay, it’s mostly been done before, but it was still a good story.

I did mean to mention the reason I watched it in the first place. Reading the description made me think it may have been a source that Simoun copied, but there’s no connection. Simoun’s mystical skywriting may have been done before, but it wasn’t here.

Also – one major defect in Erementar Gerad was the narration. We didn’t really need a recap at the beginning of each episode. But far worse were the interruptions to explain technical points. If they can’t be done in context, the storytelling has failed. That was mostly confined to the early episodes, fortunately, but it was still annoying. There was too much monologuing in the last two episodes, too.

Still, they’re fairly minor problems in a decent series. Probably not one I’ll watch again, but you never know.

Edit: I’m already finding myself slightly depressed that I’m no longer part of that world. That’s one of the marks of a good obsession. I guess I’ll leave it on the list for a day or two. I’ll especially miss the opening – though I now have the song on my current playlist. It’s a high-energy techno track that sounds completly typical of an anime opening piece, but it’s highly catchy. I don’t think I’ll be letting go of it anytime soon, either. (Forever, by Savage Genius.)

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
Elfen Lied
Erementar Gerad

17 Oct 2006

Erementar Gerad

Anime

I’m a little surprised that Erementar Gerad / Elemental Gelade (which is a more accurate transliteration) made it to my list of current obsessions. When I started watching it, I didn’t think of it as much more than a fighting anime with interesting touches.

What keeps me interested in a story is not generally events but relationships. A strong romance can cover a weak story – so I loved Kannazuki no Miko, though I dislike mecha in general, “mecha from the gods” in particular, and found the entire evil crew to be completely without merit.

Erementar Gerad is the story of Coud, a (obligatory “of course”) teenage boy, a very typical scruffy fighting anime / video game anti-hero, who discovers a girl among stolen loot. She, Ren, is a member of a race known as the Edil Raid, who have supernatural powers – including the ability to bond with a human to give him a greater power than either alone. For self-preservation she “reacts” with Coud in the first episode.

Since the bond of a true Edil Raid is for life, this makes Coud a target of everyone who wants to use Ren for their own purposes, and involves Coud in Ren’s quest to join with her people.

The growth of the relationship between Coud and Ren is the backbone of the story, though the plot also takes some unusual twists, keeping it interesting. (Some stupid / inexplicable inconsistencies, too, but that’s fairly normal.) As with most anime boy-girl love stories there’s far too much denial and embarrassment, but the pacing is good, and the affection between the two is well-handled.

(The relative weakness of boy-girl romance in anime is the main reason I find myself drawn to yuri stories. It isn’t that they’re girl-girl, just that they’re usually more compelling.)

So, early on, I had no problem just watching a couple of episodes and moving on. But at this point, four episodes from the end, I had trouble last night convincing myself that it was better to postpone the finale until I was awake enough to appreciate it. About the only thing that would interfere with me finishing Erementar Gerad is if I could pick up those last two DVDs of Elfen Lied… or more Simoun. So it’s definitly sneaked onto the obsessions list, for now.

(Good news. Simoun 17 has moved up from “QC4” where it has languished for a long time to “QC5” at simon-fans. Whatever the heck that means…)

Erementar Gerad music is by Kajiura Yuki, which ought to make the series an automatic favorite of mine. That’s going to take some re-watching, I guess. The incidental music seems quite understated, which is unusual for her.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
Elfen Lied
Erementar Gerad

16 Oct 2006

Elfen Lied

Anime

There are times when I’m very ambivalent about contiuing a series. A number of episodes of Maria-sama ga miteru were that way. When the seniors were graduating, or something really traumatic was happening.

Elfen Lied isn’t quite the same. but I have a lot of trepidation about continuing.

If this were purely a horror show, I wouldn’t have a problem. It’s extremely violent and gory. Since it isn’t really a spoiler to talk about the first few minutes, I won’t wrap this in a spoiler tag. The first episode opens with twenty one people being killed by being ripped limb from limb, or rather head from body, sliced in two, squished and splattered all over the walls… All of the killing perpetrated by a woman who’s naked but for a helmet, and not drawn with any attempt at modesty. There’s a lot of nudity – and a lot of splatter violence – through the series. (Or the first half, which is all I’ve seen, but it’s hardly likely to change.)

That’s fine. This is clearly an anime for adults. What makes it hard to take is that bad things are happening, or are constantly on the edge of happening, to people we care about. This is also a romance (/ harem) anime, with typical comedic touches, which is happening surrounded by the gore, and the sympathetic kids and their fragile relationships are being drawn into the horror.

At the mid-point, we have three cute girls and one guy, in a typical harem anime setting, with one of the girls being a part-time mass murderer. Which doesn’t begin to describe her brutality. [spoiler /Moderate spoiler about one of the others./ /Hide spoiler/] The youngest girl is a runaway. After enduring several years of child sexual abuse, shown barely off-camera. When we meet her, she’s alone and homeless – hardly a typical harem anime figure.[/spoiler]

These kids are on the edge of something really bad, and I find myself wishing I could put the series aside and not know – but, of course, needing to continue. As anyone would who’s made it this far, because it really is an excellent anime. The horror and evil play off the romance and innocence in a way that diminishes neither. So I have to go on. At the mid-point, at least, I’d recommend this – for anyone with a stomach as strong as the recommendation.

The opening is perfect, with the (mainly) latin song, Lilium, sourcing a pathos that carries throughout the show. If I’m not mistaken, there is no music other than variants of Lilium within the series – I’ve been too absorbed much of the time to pay attention, but when I have noticed music, it is Lilium. Other than the bizarre switch to the ending theme, which seems completely out of place – except that this is exactly what the anime is like. (Both opening and ending include nudity.)

Most animes have ambiguous episode previews at the end which are interesting, but tell you little about what will happen. The previews at the end of Elfen Lied episodes are heavy spoilers, and I need to stop watching them. I keep doing so because I want to be prepared for whatever the next horrible event is, but watching them has harmed the story.

The problem I have is that I’ve now watched the first two of four DVDs – and the other two are already checked out at the rental place. I have plenty of Erementar Gerad to watch – I didn’t expect to add that to the obsessions list, but it seems to be there now – but I need to know what’s going to happen in Elfen Lied. Even though i don’t really want to.

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun
Elfen Lied
Erementar Gerad

14 Oct 2006

Simoun

Anime

Fansubbed at simoun-fans.

If the premise of Simoun isn’t instantly obvious, the instructions to the writers seems to be. “Create a yuri-based story that’s accessible to all. Twist the plot and setting to make this work.”

Okay, maybe that’s unfair, since the anime is based on stories published in Yuri Hime, but it seems to have been the original writer’s primary motivation. The rest had to be made to fit.

Thus we have high-school-age (of course) girls (of course) piloting fighting aircraft (known as Simoun). Thus each craft requires a couple to pilot it, with a requirement of affection (or more) between the two.

As for “acceptable to all” – it’s hard to argue that the girls are violating any norms by being intimate with other girls, because… there are only girls. Everyone is born female. At age 17, they choose what sex they will become.

If a couple appears to be growing too close, one of them can claim “It’s okay, I’m going to become a man.”

Contrived? Hell, yes.

However…

Given that bizzare context, the series takes the idea and runs with it proudly. The pain of choosing a gender is dealt with in the first episode. After a calamity, several pilots (which isn’t a role they would claim, at least early in the series) want out. Since they were allowed to postpone their choosing only because of their position, they now have to journey to the place of choosing, the Spring, and become male or female. Eri, unable to make up her mind, steps into the Spring – and is heartsick to discover that she – he, now Erif – has become male.

Or Wapourif, a fairly recent visitor to the Spring, having been male for only two years – still has a smooth face and breasts. Older men are much more clearly male.

The girls’ vocation was never military. They are priestesses, and their craft perform rituals which invoke an apparently divine power. As they’re called on to use this power to kill in the service of their country, they react in different ways; some abhorrent, some welcoming, others just wanting to fly. The head priestess, Neviril, the Sybilla Aurea, loses her lover and partner in the first episode, and has an especially difficult time accepting her new role as a warrior.

Enter Aaeru, gung-ho pilot from a military cadet group, who is so much the typical fighting anime teenage kid that I find it jarring whenever someone refers to her as “her”. She seems another “make this accessible” prop. (This may be an unfair accusation. I looked over the artwork for the Yuri Hime stories, and she hasn’t changed much. I doubt the original authors had this motivation. However, in the comic she does seem subtly more feminine. Although she’s pushy in the comic, it’s telling a different story, and there’s no way to know from issue 1 if she’s really the teen brat that she is in the anime.)

The girls’ growing into their new roles is compelling. A very good balance of friction, cameraderie, angst, hardship and happiness. I’m definitely hooked at episode 16, and impatient for the next few episodes.

Though I haven’t seen enough yet to know many serious spoilers, this is one. [spoiler /Moderate spoiler/ /Hide spoiler/] I claim that the writers have worked hard to make the yuri content inoffensive, but there’s a surprise there. We know indirectly that Neviril and her partner were lovers, and there are clearly others, but there’s only one relationship that we’re explicitly told was sexual – and it’s between sisters. The two have wildly different views on their relationship: while Kaimu hates her sister Alti for what has happened between them, Alti is planning to become male so that she can stay with Kaimu, apparently having no qualms at all about incest. Because of their differences, the two can’t form the bond needed to pilot a Simoun craft together, so they can not be paired.[/spoiler]

So, as far-fetched as the concept is, it’s effective ground for a whole lot of dramatic tension, and the series works well as character-driven, romance or action / adventure.

The weakest point for me is the music. Plinky accordion music works well for Mireille and Kirika sitting outside of a café in Paris, but it absolutely does not fit a battle of a handful of Simoun against a couple of hundred machine-gunning fighter planes. There are times that the music is okay, but at other times it destroys the tension, making the action seem quite bland. This series cries out for Kajiura Yuki – and it’s ironic that the opening theme is by her partner Ishikawa Chiaki. “Utsukushi kereba sore de ii” is among the finest songs ever used as an anime theme. If the rest of the score lived up to the promise of the opening, this would be an even more powerful show than it is.

As I say, I’m stuck at 16. I’m following the simoun-fans sub; there is another that is slightly further ahead, but simoun-fans have produced the highest quality fansub I’ve yet seen. I can’t switch. I do hope that the impetus to complete the sub hasn’t diminished since the series is complete, and all the subbers have seen it. I really, really hate having to skip 10 episodes’ worth of discussion threads. Even “non-spoiler” threads rely on events that have happened before, and as such are spoilers themselves.

I wish I understood at least a little Japanese. Just enough to get the gist of an episode…

Current obsessions: (anime) Simoun

Elfen Lied