I have a dream…that one day… Continue reading
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. My bias is on and I’m all for this show. The tension between the cats women duking it out with weapons and their haughty attitudes is just unbearable! Man, I’ll bet that if girls in all female schools had these kind of power and weapons, they’d fight just as fierce and harsh, too. Gentelmen, here’s a thing about women’s cirlces – they’re tight, scary competitive, and sharp. Oh yeah.
Well, Satellizer loses to Garnessa, and of course, as a good shonen sennan plot, Garness goes to her and boasts. Hey, which girl with any pride would turn down a good fight, especially when the girls all have proper manly weapons? Really? Verbal conflict? NAH! I’m sure women get fucking pissed off and wish they had the power to wield large weapons, which is why Dynasty Warriors are very popular among women in Japan! I mean after all, women just don’t have that much fighting power and therefore, it must feel good to be able to wield hugh blades, eh? What, they’re humans, too! Large guns and big blades really CAN ensure safety and even knockout some annoying fuckers, right?
All right, all that speculations aside, the conflicts are basic shonen stuff but is well done. The fight scene is good and the women ended up being naked after the fights helps a lot too. The male protagnonist is actually more annoying than in the manga because in the show, he managed to put his hand on Satellizer (I’m gonna call her Sate-Ma-chan as a combination of Satellizer and Mamiko) too many times. Yes, we get the point. Sate-ma-chan is OK with you touching her. Fine, fine, fine. But Hezus, before I was aware of it, the episode ended and I’m glad that I was having beer with it.The show reall grabbed my attention because it was fun without being shitty low-brow!
No, I won’t pretend that there’s sophistication in this show, but no, I actually don’t see it as an equivolent of a third rate movie, either. Because the voice acting and the animation skills as well as the magification of women’s conflict in women’s circles is realistc (what the fuck does me, a man, know) seems realistic to me. I’m biased because I enjoy the manga at least untli the recent volume, and I like the pacing, the action, and the realistic (?) portrayal of women’s competitiveness.
A+++ and no pistol salutes needed.
So happy to see that around the time of my last post, a small group of new shows arrive with my notions well complimented. It seems as though despite the ever glowering cloud of desperation often gumming up recent anime schedules,this worry has finally found a weak spot. That, or the old fixer-upper solutions are no longer working. Whatever the case, it seems that certain prayers may be answered this season as not one, but three shows debuted this last week that offer shining proof that anime can indeed offer more than the expected warm blankie/cocoa combo they’ve been dishing out ad-nauseum over the last several seasons.
(Not that I dislike cocoa, mind you. But one too many makes for a violently upset Wintermuted.)
Starting off with Level E, a punchy, goofy science fiction comedy set in a world where extraterrestrials co-exist amongst the ignorant human population until the day one decides to move into the new home of a young baseball hopeful (Sans permission, and is of the “just won’t go away” quantity.). Both refreshingly funny, and breathlessly retro (the original manga was serialized in the mid 90s-Yes.), the comedy plays like an X-Files parody, with a dose of GTO-like shonen energy for good measure. It is especially fun in how the interplay between lead protagonist, Yukitaka, an ordinary boy who’s prowess in baseball has led him to a potentially exciting new life in a new town, and hopelessly irritating alien prince Baka works. It’s a simple, and yet effective take on the classic straight-man, and the spoiled fool, made all the funnier with the erstwhile prince’s appearance as a strikingly effeminate pretty boy. Add the classic 90s hard manga art style, and the whole package thus far is quite promising. Studio Pierrot (Click Me.) and David may have themselves a memorable little hit on their hands if they continue to expand the world, and drag poor Yukitaka along for the ride.
Level E is available via Crunchyroll (Members now, but free within days!).
Second is clearly on a much more familiar stage, and pays homage to two generations of anime fandom, and as such could be a more dicey project. I write simply about Yutaka Yamamoto’s big-scale NoItamina project, Fractale, which plays like a Greatest Hits compilation of not merely anime favorites, but potentially as contemporary metaphor. In the idyllic fantasy world that resembles an Irish isle surrounded by deceptively analog trappings, where youthful wanderer, Clain seems to live amongst virtual citizens called “Doppels”, his seemingly peaceful virtual life is thrown for a loop when he encounters a mysterious girl on a glider chased by roughs in an airship. So already, this should sound terribly familiar. Right on down to the design aesthetic, we are in a post-cyberpunk take on Miyazaki (or Nadia, pick your poison), complete with simple attractive leads, silly, ineffective villainy, and a love of quiet, open space. But knowing that this is being filtered through the minds of both Yamamoto, a director with a full understanding of the form, and noted critic & writer Hiroki Azuma, this is sure to take come interesting turns as we come to learn more about Clain, Phryne, and the world watched over by the mysterious Fractale system.
The problems with this show are evident in presentation, since it depends so much on either full knowledge of the inspiration, or completely new perspective which can either help or cripple the series as a whole. Long and short, this series, while having a promising debut episode needs to gather steam quickly to fully work. So while some critics may find this inexcusably trite and hopelessly post-modern, perhaps this is only the beginning of a unique exploration of anime fandom as well as the increasing allure of insular living. The show seems to definitely be going in this direction. Here’s hoping they find something truly new and exciting along the way.
Fractale is available via Funimation & Hulu!
And lastly, it should be noted that of all the new shows out this season, the one I’m most hopeful for is AIC Classic’s visually rich & utterly fascinating adaptation of Takako Shimura‘s Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son). Telling the take of young middle schoolers, Nitori, and Takatsuki, a boy and girl who share a secret of wishing to switch genders, the story is told with sensitivity, and a truly unique visual style. So much more interested in letting the lives of the two leads take the forefront, rather than going for the cheap and easy trap route is a bold, and human turn in a medium that is often more restrictive of such notions. Right away, the visuals(much like a watercolor storybook come to life) offer the promise of something altogether new. In fact, bold doesn’t begin to describe it.
If there are any true problems with the debut episode, it is that we are thrust in several volumes into the story that was likely an episode count issue, and could very well make or break the series as a whole. We are given glimpses into their respective lives, but it makes the viewer wish for a much smoother means to get to know them. And as a show with a slower pace than others, it would likely benefit from less compression. But given the presentation, this was likely an impossibility. So the mix can be a bit of a conundrum by design. And yet despite all this, a show focusing on issues of gender identity, and the pangs that come with being young makes for potentially important viewing. There is a lot of emotional truth to all of this, something that can go a long way if Ei Aoki & crew stay the course.
Hourou Musuko is available via Crunchyroll (Members now, but available free in days!)
So with these new shows in the ether, ready to take on a potentially evolving landscape, here’s hoping fans all over are equally as prepared for change as this new year starts off full throttle. I know I am.
Now that was hilarious.
There have been shows and even movies about how single men just can’t deal with kids very well. Well, of courrrrrse! Taking care of child is women’s job! That’s why they got the tits and we don’t, rirrrrrrght?
(finding himself being chased by a bunch of claymore wielding ladies…)
OK, OK (barely escaping from the flash blade attack). So basic plots aside, why do I think it’s pretty funny (at least the OAD)? Well, first of all, the traditional setting of Demons and the Demon king is thrown out. Also, a quick and funny introduction by the baddes bad ass high schooler in town, inside of a high school with over 100% of delinquents (how does that work), with a kid that’s pushing the boundary of annoyingness but barely makes it. Also, my favorite seiyuu like Ito Shizuka playing the blond demon maid. Add some good pacing and all, and viola! It’s a funny show about a high school delinquent raising a kid. Simple enough?
Oh, the plot? Right. One day, a really, really, REALLY kind hearted young man was taking a nap, when a bunch of rough young men (it’s starting to sound like BL) decided to wake him. He was slightly, I mean VERY SLIGHTLY annoyed, so he decided to GENTLY teach them a lesson in manners. While doing that, he also did some laundary.Then, he saw a large middle aged dude with a funky mustache flowing down the river. Because he was SUCH A KIND HEARTED young man, he decided to save the floating middle aged guy. So, as he decided what to do next, the older guy splitted in half, and inside him (wow, now that sounds really BL) was a healthy little boy), so the young man decided to talk to the little baby boy. As the young man showed his NICEST and MOST PLEASANT face, the little baby boy decided to climb onto his back. Now, these two are unseperatable. And, they lived happily ever after….
LIKE HELL! XD To be continued in episode two!
PS. Oh yes, and Toyozaki Aki-chan’s female delinquent boss is really cute! Also love her sword techniques!
Listening to the most recent ANNCast, and it finally felt time to lay this all out for folks since many of my previous posts have been hovering around this debate since possibly the beginning. And being within the first few weeks of a new year seemed only appropriate considering the changes that are likely ahead for the anime medium. It has been no surprise that feelings on multiple sides of the “state of anime” have been heated to boil for several years since the so-called “moe” boom has come and is nearly gone. The feeling that a trend of shows and projects based upon a growingly insular minority left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. There is definitely a sentiment that the Akiba-kei movement almost single-handendly has killed anime to a great degree. And while I may not agree with this entirely, for me, it is more a feeling of dropping out, a complete withdrawal from risk-taking. The very feeling that drives many to become artists in the first place, which leaves only the panicky bean-counters to fend for themselves, and the remaining creators and workers unable to express, but merely work in assembly-line shifts.
And while this can still very much be felt, even amidst the current crop of shows, the phenomenon of sameness, and the need for familiarity in all aspects of viewed media is by no means a new concept.
Simply put, fans and diminishing returns are massive factors in the types of shows we see released each season. And as much as I love bemoaning the seemingly neverending parade of young female character types shelled out every season to be the next great pillowcase, a part of me has to also shrug it off as a shade, a color of the current attitudes within the media consuming world.
And what seems to be the common theme from not only the anime world, but also from Hollywood (TRON: Legacy, anyone?), the publishing (Twilight?), and even the musical industries. There is a lack of completeness to current media, that is purely fearful of ideas, and ready to co-opt the next best thing. Namely meme-like concepts, half stories filled with stock-types. Think of them as the cultural equivalent to the lead in any basic visual novel, where the lead character (you) are featureless (the lead player character’s face/eyes are often obscured in order to allow the player’s wish to project themselves onto the character, so when the harem/reverse reacts, it is all the more personal.) The rest are given simple attributes that don’t even qualify as character traits, often lacking in actual nuance, reaction, or motivation. The very antithesis of character. It is almost as if we are being prepared for a virtual experience ourselves, taken into an artificial construct, only to be safely coddled, and remain unchallenged since our sensibilities would leave us too fragile to handle any real character arc. It in this inert state of being that entertainment is rendered questionable by those like me, and yet perfectly fine by others.
It is here, in this culture of creature comforts that is closer to where a character begins their journey. It is the equivalent to purchasing having morning toast, only for the cinnamon. This is perhaps the simplest way of breaking it down. As an increasingly meme-drawn culture, it is perhaps becoming harder and harder to consider an entire package, and to merely place value on aesthetic elements, which anime was often a clever melange. The end result of this type of fan-pandering-as-business can be equated with fixing a flat tire with a wad of gum. It is by no means a solution, but it seems to give off a fleeting sense of security. But very often it seems truly, deeply desperate. One can almost visualize an anime director holding a fragile young lady in a seifuku on a bridge, classic movie “hostage situation” style, daring us to watch or the kid gets tossed.
When it comes to some shows that allow us to see the framework, and do not attempt to go beyond the tropes, it is much less about story, and much more about disparate ideas. Which would be fine aesthetically if the creators took the time to do something new with it. Which is perhaps why I can empathize with fans of shows like K-On! The problems come when the writers and animators offer nothing honest or interesting beyond an checklist seemingly written on a Post-It! note. Then, the projects become closer in tone to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” without ever involving the player. We just sit there and watch. And as one who is bored by watching others playing games…
Which leads us to the particular phenomenon of “comfort food”, which is something of a marker of the times where running time takes a back seat to story, nuance, character, any identifiable totem of media. And perhaps this method of internalization is more a reaction to more than merely dwindling monetary returns. So when peers reacted wildly to the release of a long-awaited, mechanically made sequel or prequel, this sentiment is often fleeting (and more about the event/connectivity factor). This continues on toward the love of superheroes, pretty vampires, and yes, even super robots.
“as long as my requirements are filled, all is well…” – Almost sounds like a diet, doesn’t it?
Which hopefully reminds all that before the era of “moe” came along, anime/manga also had a fair amount of time drowning in mountains of mecha, psyonics, cute girls, maids, and more. It is an industry that has often worked like a junkie of the current flow. But perhaps mass media’s culture of addiction has never functioned at such a distressing fever pitch.
So do I agree with some of the ANNCast’s panelists when one says that the medium must crash in an ultimately massive fiery wreck before rising from the ashes? Perhaps a little adoption of the tsundere on this side of the screen is in order, giving the medium a much-required kick in the pants. But before that could happen, mediums must often go through a prolonged identity crisis. A rough process of implosion before it can once again explode. And perhaps this is exactly what the last few years were all about. Anime fans deserve to be reminded of the possibilities, rather than be coddled by it. Some of my favorite works of art are challenging; they invite us, provoke us, spark discussion, allow us to confront difficult daily questions. Art can also be an educator, and not merely a nanny. After all, any good diet requires often painful and uncomfortable sacrifices in order to remain healthy. So what kind of regiment would you consider?
Taste Of Paradise = Taste Of Incest?
A first look at some of Crunchyroll’s simulcasts for this season: Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, Dragon Crisis, and Gosick. Which one is promising, grating, or boring? Find out…