Category Archives: anime

5cm per second

I just spent 30 minutes trying to come up with a suitable opening for this post and have decided that it’s simply not going to happen. A friend of mine sent me a copy of Byousoku Go Senchimetoru a few weeks ago. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I watched it. I’m a fan of the director’s previous work, Hoshi no Koe, so I thought I knew what to expect.

But just because I was expecting it doesn’t mean I was in any way prepared. I was floored.

The story is beautiful and sad and the visuals are simply astounding. I give the movie a ten and I’m going to shut up now and just share some screen caps.

2am tv

Grin. So… this morning I couldn’t sleep and stumbled out to the living room to watch some TV. Nothing particularly interesting was on. I watched a documentary on fish farming.

Then, at ~1:20, I started flipping channels when I saw that one of the public access channels was advertising a 2 hour “Japanese Animation and Other” show. I figured it was worth a shot.

Turned out to be reviews of books on Nazism… so… I went back to the fishes. They’re trying to farm cod out in the open ocean now, you know.

10 minutes later, my documentary ended, and I decided to give the show another chance and was… shall we say, pleasantly surprised.

Turns out, they were airing anime. Specifically, I tuned in to recognize Pajamas Get in the Way – one of the Urusei Yatsura opening sequences. Lum dancing and everything. (The cute Lum, not the MMO guy)

Anyhow. Not only was my television providing me with Urusei Yatsura at 1:30 in the morning, it was providing episodes I hadn’t actually seen before – I’ve only actually seen about 60 or 70 of the >200 TV series episodes.

So… I got to watch episodes 138 and 140.

uy 138 – haunted house special! quest for mendo estate treasure!

Pretty classic sort of happenings here. Shutaro’s grandfather is supposedly dying (but is partying it up until the last), and sends him off to find the family treasure. Naturally Lum, Ataru, Ten, Shinobu, and the Stormtroopers all fall out of the sky for no reason whatsoever and join in the hunt. There is a cute little antarctic octopus, a forgotten theme park and its loyal (starving) ticket taker, an army of robotic penguins that spray shaved ice, a hedge labyrinth, and of course lots of lightning.

I rate the episode a 4 out of 5. Certainly representative of the rest of the franchise and worth the time if you’re a fan. It loses points for not having anything particularly notable to recommend it over half of the other episodes in the series, however.

uy 140 – lum-chan’s becoming a cow?

This episode is really kind of out there – even for UY. Episode opens (and closes) with film noir sort of train station meeting scene. Then Ataru and Lum each get bitten by a cow at the pet store. Lum watches vampires on television and then decides she’s turning into a cow. Enter weird fever dream where Lum imagines a very Japanese faerie tale setting where she (as a cow) visits (peasant woodcutter type) Ataru at his hut in the woods. It reminded me immediately of the Yuki-Onna stories. Naturally, Lum’s not turning into a cow, but threatened hardship brings out Ataru’s true feelings and all ends well.

I rate this episode 3 out of 5. It is… really very weird. And while it certainly belongs in the series, it’s not as enjoyable standalone as other less bizarre episodes. This one’s worth watching, but only if you’re a big fan and are already quite familiar with the show.

spring 2007 anime part 5

And here comes round five. Same warning applies, some spoilers, but not enough to ruin your day, etc…

idolmaster xenoglossia

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iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA is based on an arcade game. After watching two eps, I stumbled across what is really a phenomenally good (tongue in cheek + pictures) summary of the show.

In my grand (?) tradition of adding other shows together to achieve new ones. I hereby declare that idolmaster is what happens when you add Evangelion and Angelic Layer together, then throw in a splash of moe obsession

Basic story is that the moon has exploded. This is bad. Tidal levels are all thrown out of whack, and the moon is made out of rocks. These rocks like to interfere with cell reception when they’re not falling out of the sky. But that’s not a problem when the world has a country like Japan, where they can just launch little girls into space to fight the falling debris.

It’s funny, it’s slightly quirky. It’s also pretty standard issue girl- from- the- sticks- who- thinks- she’s- gonna- be- a- rock- star- winds- up- driving- a- giant- robot- to- save- the- planet- from- falling- meteors fare. Penny enjoyed it sufficiently that I think we’re gonna try to follow this one if at all possible.

kishin taisen gigantic formula

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Gigantic Formula is yet another mecha show, complete with tournament type atmosphere and young kids driving the robot that will save the world.

The year is 2035 and a strange blight has wiped out much of the planet. For some reason, the UN has somehow managed to convince nations to wage a “wise” war against each other – where each country provides a champion to duel it out with other nations champions. In big robots.

The mecha are CG, and their art doesn’t quite fit, but it’s better than it could be. The show’s art in general is much more on the realistic side. Everyone has brown hair, has more realistic eyes and facial shapes, etc… I like it. Penny’d probably hate it though. The music didn’t do anything for me. In fact, 5 minutes after watching episode one, I don’t remember anything about the music, so I guess I’ll just file it under forgettably typical.

Despite the cliche wrappings, this one looks pretty good. It’s being subbed by one of my favorite groups, so that’s also a plus.

koutetsu sangokushi

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And, a historical anime to round things out. I normally avoid these things like the plague, since they typically bore me to tears – and I don’t know why. I was almost a Sino-Japanese history major in college πŸ˜› (In stead, I went the literature route and then dropped out for medical reasons mentioned 3 years ago in this blog).

So far… shrug. It’s definitely got some sort of period setting to it. The title suggests that this is somehow related to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. But koutetsu (Γ©β€ΉΒΌΓ©β€°β€ž)? It means ‘steel’, so shrug. Some generic war reference perhaps? Shrug.

Nothing I’m seeing is overtly reminiscient of the Sanguo period, at least nothing matches up with my admittedly limited knowledge of the age. Episode one introduces us to two nations, ‘Gi’ and ‘Go’. And there’s a magical cube that makes people jump around and grow mecha arms and throw lightning and stuff. And ninjas steal things.

I’m not horribly impressed with the show, and I don’t think it has anything to do with my lack of enthusiasm coming in. And, I don’t think it’s just that I’m being turned off by the yaoi overtones in our hero’s relationship with his master. I’m honestly… just kind of bored with the show. It’s a lightly scifi flavoured retelling of a fantasy retelling of one of the most highly romanticized periods in Chinese history… and everything feels a bit too watered down.

That said, the art is decent, the animation is decent. The facial close-ups annoy me – it feels like they distort the proportions. Meh. I’m not really planning on watching episode two of this one, but I won’t walk out of the room if somebody else puts it on.

spring 2007 anime part 4

Haha! I found three more episodes! Cower and tremble, mere mortals as I present another set of generic quickie reviews of some of this season’s new shows. Spoiler warning level is at a code yellow.

bokurano

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In yet another attempt to explain the show by comparing it to other stories that have come before, I hereby declare that Ender’s Game + Breakfast Club + Neon Genesis Evangelion = Bokurano.

A group of 15 kids (14 seventh-graders and one’s fourth-grade sister) are lumped together for some variety of summer camp/schooling/mandatory fun. A whole lot of nothing happens. Then nothing else happens. Then nothing happens again. Then one of the boys tortures a crab. Then they have a brief philosophical debate about the morality of killing the crab.

Then the kids get bored and decide to explore a cave, where they bump into a guy who tricks them into signing on as pilots for a mecha responsible for defending the planet against a series of impending alien invasions.

All in all, I think I might like it. It looks like the plot might go somewhere next episode, so I’m hopeful. However, their CG mecha integration with the normal artwork fails – always a losing point in my book. The music is good, the art is good.

The storytelling is slow and sort of laid back, as if the story is happening whether or not the camera is there. And sometimes the camera man runs out of tape.

kamichama karin

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I’d translate the title as “Little Goddess Karin”. The show is about a little girl who’s lost everything in her life, especially her parents and her little kitten. Personally, I’m not terribly motivated to feel sorry for her. She comes across (to me, anyway) as substantially more of a brat than your average magical girl.

Maybe it’s how she seems to be slightly obsessed with other “cute people”. Maybe it’s her inflexibility and willful ignorance. Maybe it’s the scary pink costume (nothing wrong with pink, esp on a magical girl, but this particular costume annoys me).

What I do know is that her transformation phrase sets my teeth on edge. She shouts out “I am God”. In English. No “Parallel Parallel” or “Moon Magic Make-Up” sort of spell. Straight up unfiltered blasphemous narcissism.

My wife seemed vaguely interested in this one. It feels almost eerily like a cross-over between Sakura and Pretear, with some sincerely interesting plot points… but unless episode number two is way better than episode one, Penny’ll have to download the rest of the subs herself πŸ˜›

shining tears x wind

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The ‘Shining‘ series of RPG’s has long been one of my favorites. Like top three favorite series. So… when I heard that a new anime would be coming out based however vaguely on one of the series’ installments, I committed myself to watching it – no matter how bad it wound up being.

Shining Tears was not my favorite game in the series, but I liked it better than NEO (well, I liked almost everything better than NEO). Tears at least looks like it belongs in the series (even if it is an action RPG where all of the previous games were tactical RPG’s). NEO’s just annoying πŸ˜› Anyways…

Shining Tears X Wind seems to be an interlude between the world/plot of Shining Tears with its upcoming spiritual sequel, Shining Wind (due in Japan this May). After watching episode one, I’m not entirely sure what to call the anime any more… because it is certainly not just a rehashing of the Tears story, and I don’t think it’s going to be the Wind story…

Oh, but what is the story? Well, start with two worlds, the Tears world and something a bit more modern. The two universes collide, high school kids go missing, cherry trees long thought barren go into bloom, something happens with mirrors, Mao throws fireballs, some guy who looks like Xion but is apparently really named Zero flies around with black & white wings, Souma is probably our main character because he does the Utena thing and pulls a sword out of a girl, and goblins pop out of silly little dimensional rifts. But not necessarily in that order.

So far, my knowledge of Tears makes the show quite interesting but is hardly necessary or even relevant to overall enjoyment (or ability to follow the rapid plot advancement in the episode). My only complaints so far are pretty minor – The story might be going just a bit too fast to enjoy, and Mao doesn’t look quite as crisp in the anime as she does in the Tears artwork (but that’s hardly surprising, and at least she looks better than how the Disgaea characters wound up in their recent anime adaptation).

I’m gonna be watching this one if it kills me. And I’m being pleasantly surprised. The music is mediocre and the art is average, but they’re also providing me with a new story that promises to involve characters I already like and am familiar with.

spring 2007 anime part 3

And here we go with the third set of eps πŸ˜‰ If everything goes according to my evil master plan, there will be at least 6 of these posts in all.

As with the previous two posts, I guarantee minor spoilers but don’t suspect that they’ll ruin your day if you’re into avoiding stuff like that.

sola

sola
sola
sola
First off, let me say that their romanizing of the word 空 (Γ£ΒΒΓ£β€šβ€°) with an ‘L’ in stead of an ‘R’ really kind of bugs me. Not for any really specific reason… just sort of a deep and abiding visceral annoyance.

The show starts off as your average highschool romance. We have a boy who likes to take photographs of the sky. The boy has a sister who is hospitalized for unexplained reasons. He and a female friend (whom he’s likely had since childhood, of course), visit her regularly.

The boy’s photographic obsession with the sky is getting him in trouble with the women in his life – he even ditches his sister’s belated birthday party in order to take a shot of the sunset.

Well, he meets a girl who likes some sort of strange tomato juice that can only be acquired from vending machines and apparently only comes out at night. We shall assume that she is primary love interest #1. She is also probably homeless.

Not a whole lot else really happens during the show… the tomato juice at night girl is not only homeless, she is likely on the run from your standard issue evil syndicate and/or bounty hunter cadre. The episode ends with a brief action sequence of the girl being chased after by one such bounty hunter.

Oh, and there’s a gothic lolita type girl who lives in a box under a bridge or something? Shrug.

I’m not sure about this one. The music is pretty good, if typical. The art is artistic and interesting, but not astounding. Hopefully, the story will pick up and become much more interesting with the next episode.

el cazador de la bruja

El Cazador de la Bruja
El Cazador de la Bruja
El Cazador de la Bruja
El Cazador is sort of a western crossover between Noir and ye olde generic secret government soldier project anime (well, I guess Noir has super soldiers in it… but that’s beside the point :P).

I assume that events take place somewhere in modern day Mexico, but the show doesn’t really ever say.

To translate the title, allow me to present the conversation I had with my wife’s sister’s husband’s brother, who is substantially more supeingo de jouzu than I am.

I think this one’s a keeper so far. I love the music, I love the artwork. I like the writing. There’s some humor, but not too much. The story progresses at a good rate and is both easy to follow and easy to get sucked into.

nagasarete airantou

Nagasarete Airantou
Nagasarete Airantou
Nagasarete Airantou
Think… Gilligan’s Island minus every male cast member but Gilligan plus a few extra Ginger’s and Mary Ann’s until the population is that of a sizable village, and you have Airantou. Oh, and add a bunch of really random animal characters for flavour. The piggie is named Tonkatsu, the bear is Kuma-Kuma, and the orca is Sashimi…

However, the thing that scares me most about this whole show is that SquEnix is one of the sponsors…

Things start off with a kid being left for dead after falling overboard during a heavy storm and end with him being thoroughly trapped and incapable of escaping an island that has somehow become inhabited entirely by girls between the age of 10 and 20 (plus grandma, who’s somewhere between one and two hundred years old).

As is to be expected by the genre, there is fan service, but there’s more hinted fan service than actual. Mostly, the show seems to be slapstick humor as our hero runs for his life while the females of the village attempt to capture him for breeding purposes.

I’m not going to give a recommendation for this one, but it was kind of funny, so shrug πŸ˜‰

spring 2007 anime part 2

Well, the endless stream of this season’s new anime continues. Again, minor spoilers await, but nothing that’ll ruin your enjoyment of the shows.

gurren lagann

Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann
Well, I was worried from the opening that I was looking at another Beyblade or other unimpressive little boy’s pseudo-mecha show. But I am hopefully optimistic after watching episode one.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann opens with some random space pirate sort of scene but quickly gets to what I assume is the the core story. Our hero lives in an underground village where they eat mole-pigs, are ruled over by a generically mean and overbearing village elder, and where he works as a digger – to expand the city. The people are scared that the roof will collapse in an earthquake – and they don’t believe in the surface world.

Well, the surface world comes crashing down and our little hero winds up driving a strange little mecha…

Pretty standard art and music. It’s a Gainax show, after all. Also, being Gainax, it is pretty sophomoric humor and lots of it. So far, it looks like it’ll be more like Abenobashi than FLCL or Eva. That’s not really a good thing in my book, but it’s not necessarily a bad one either. Time and one more episode will tell if I’m gonna try to stick this one out.

darker than black

Darker than BLACK
Darker than BLACK
Darker than BLACK
Darker than BLACK looks like a winner. It’s along the paranormal detective vein and is reminiscent of Robin in many ways and Death Note in others. The art is good, the animation is great, and the music is quite happy as well.

Apparently, a number of years ago, a Hell Gate opened up in Tokyo (or wherever we are, but I’ll assume Tokyo because it’s traditional). The people built a wall and a fake sky and don’t know what’s on the outside… but there are also still Chinese transfer students and French spies… so I’m not sure precisely what area is enclosed by the wall yet.

Around the same time that the gate opened and the wall was thrown up, people with supernatural powers did too. There are two types, Contractors and Dolls. It seems that contractors have a single ability that they can use but they have to pay supernatural forces for it afterward by performing some sort of individual ritual. Not sure what dolls are, but it looks like there’s a major personality difference between the two types.

Unlike many superpower shows, this one does well to stick to telling the story in stead of wasting the viewer’s time with endless repetitive action sequences. The first episode does have plenty of action… three chase scenes and two fights. But the action is secondary to the story – which is being told in a way that guarantees that I’ll be following this one.

hayate no gotoku

Hayate no Gotoku
Hayate no Gotoku
Hayate no Gotoku
Hayate The Combat Butler is like a cross between He Is My Master and something even more childish πŸ˜‰ It’s very tongue in cheek and I suspect it will be quite successful.

General story is that our hero has a pair of deadbeat parents who rely on him working part-time jobs to support them. The parents rack up an obscene debt from some yakuza loan sharks and offer to sell their son into slavery as payment – and then they skip town.

Hayate decides that all of his hard work was pointless and that the only way to survive would be to embark upon a life of crime. So… he tries to kidnap the first wealthy looking person he bumps into and botches things sufficiently that he winds up accidentally confessing his undying love for her, protecting her from real kidnappers, and getting hired as her personal bodyguard/manservant.

Episode two is already out as well, and I’ve got it queued in my playlist after I catch up on all of the other new shows I’m checking out πŸ˜‰