Category Archives: anime

revenge of the paper doll popsicle stick people

I finished watching the anime adaptation of Kare Kano. One thing to remember about this series is that it is by Gainax. So when you see the all paper cut-out/photographic background/characters bopping around on popsicle sticks episode (no, I’m not kidding), it will not be a huge surprise. The endless recaps/clip shows of what went on in previous episodes got tiresome at times, and the series doesn’t actually end. The last show doesn’t have much resolution, so if that type of thing might bug you, be prepared to pick up some volumes of the manga to get a satisfying conclusion. I think the anime covers up to volume 7 or 8 of the manga. Right Stuf put the show out, and sometimes the Kare Kano box set is on sale for around $35 dollars. It still manages to be a very artistic and funny show, despite its flaws.

Fruits Basket: I watched the first disc of the Fruits Basket anime, it is every bit as adorable as the manga and there are some bits (Prince Yuki’s fan club and Hanajima’s waves) that work better in animated form than on the page.

Full Metal Alchemist: Full Metal Alchemist continues to be a fun action show, that is sometimes poignant due to the contrast of the grim storylines and the young protagonists. I mean, there are plenty of shows where a character foils a serial killer, but when a 12 year old boy foils a serial killer in a meat freezer and has an understandable emotional reaction to the event, the storyline seems more compelling than if a cool laconic antihero had experienced the same event. The relationship between Edward and Al continues to be entertaining, it is easy to feel affection for these characters and wish for them to succeed in their quest to discover more alchemical knowledge so they get their original bodies back.

Tusbasa Reservoir Chronicle
: The first episode of Tsubasa seemed like a good adaptation of the manga, with attractive but very skinny character designs and interesting music provided by Yuki Kajiura who also did the music for .hack/sign (a show that I personally have found one of the most boring and soul deadening animes ever produced, although the music was one of the more interesting aspects of the show. Some of the wordless vocal music used when Sakura and Syaoran are investigating the spooky archaeological dig was quite nifty.
The second episode has a drop off in the quality of animation that is typical at times, the character design turns erratic in execution and it is a bit of a disappointment.

Another first episode that I watched recently was Sousei no Aquarion. Shoji Kawamori directs the show, he also worked on a ton of Macross stuff, Escaflowne, and the Escaflowne movie (which was beautiful even if it did really suffer from compressing a season of tv show into a couple hours). So I was expecting Aquarion to have pretty robots. It is really hilarious how many anime cliches are packed into one show. If you were to make an anime cliche drinking game and watch this show it would end up being dangerous to your liver. I’ll count up some of the cliches:

1) The world tries to recover from a great catastrophe while fending off an invading force of aliens/angels.
2) A group of plucky fighters with psychic powers pilot giant mecha to fight the angels as part of an organized resistance.
3) Our plucky fighters appear to get their powers from some past life in Atlantis
4) The unwilling spiky-haired hero of the show lives like a feral animal, yet is singled out to pilot a mecha due to his psychic abilities/earlier Atlantian incarnation. He also tragically loses his best friend early in the episode in a horrific wall melting incident. The wall melting was actually sort of interesting.
5) Plucky female heroine is called “princess”, and she is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by spiky haired hero. She has older brother issues, and her brother is also an elite pilot
6) Is there a roguish authority figure with a dueling scar across his face?! Yes!
7) Is there a frail girl with extrasensory powers in a position of authority?! Yes!
8) Are there cheesy sexual references when the mecha and pilots “combine” to form a giant super mecha? But of course!
9) There is also a mysterious blond guy in a coma. You can’t have an anime show without an enigmatic blond guy.
10) Does the hero somehow connect with his long-lost Atlantean ancestor and manage to pilot a giant mecha better than anyone has before? Do you even have to ask?

So it was so cheesy and stereotypical in an unintentionally hilarious way, but the animation was great, and I do love those transforming mecha shows. One of the supporting characters seems like a transplant from Shaolin Soccer. This is such a messed up show, I haven’t decided if it is great or awful. Perhaps it is greatly awful or awfully great.

happy and unhappy media consumption

Unhappy: I checked out Jacqueline Carey’s book Banewreaker out of the library. I was hoping that I’d like this because I did enjoy the Kushiel triliogy. But I’m around 32 pages in and I’m struggling because the book seems to have contracted a horrible case of High Fantasy disease, what with having to suffer through a long creation myth prologue, and often Random Things of Great Import are capitalized. So far the chararcters seem to be more of a collection of mannerisms than people I would want to read about. I’ll give it a few more pages to see if it starts appealing to me more, otherwise I might give up on the book. I almost never give up on books!

Happy: I am loving the Grant Morrison mini-series Vimanarama. The art by Philip Bond is great, I love the storyline combining the problems of a modern day arranged marriage and the return of the Indian Gods.

Happy: I finally watched the first disk of Full Metal Alchemist, I tend to wait to watch most anime series (even when they are on Cartoon Network) on dvd because I like watching them in Japanese. I can definitely see the appeal of Full Metal Alchemist, the dynamic of the relationship between the brothers Edward and Alphonse, with “little brother” Alphonse encased in a big suit of armor, is great. There is a darker theme underlying the show that makes it feel a little different from a standard action anime.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a blue-skinned elf from outer space

Why is the Count of Monte Cristo a blue-skinned elf from outer space? Because he’s in an adaptation of the novel from Studio Gonzo. I recently finished watching Last Exile, so I was happy to find another show to watch, Gankutsuou.

The first part of the novel is shown in the opening credits, which have a sepia-tone and a jumpy quality to the animation that manages to evoke the look of old films. The look of the series is interesting, I think the best phrase I can think of to describe it is “holographic baroque”. All of the characters wear period clothing, but patterns on the clothes look as if they are being projected. This look is extended to some of the backgrounds, so there’s a mix of flat projected patterns and hand-drawn style characters. It does give the show a unique futuristic look.

Gankutsuou starts out midway through the story, as Albert and Franz meet a mysterious nobleman from the outer universe at a carnival on the mood. You can get a sense of the character design and look of the series here and this is where you can see some screencaps of individual episodes.

Kitten Bus, Sad Supes, and Spirit

Cartoon Brew reviews May and the Kitten Bus, a short movie that’s only shown at the Studio Ghibli museum. It sounds adorable.

Here’s an interview
with the author who wrote about Miyazaki in a recent issue of The New Yorker. {via}

Those old Jimmy Olsen comics look like they were totally insane.

Mike Sterling unearths some Will Eisner art and Johnny Bacardi shares some of his favorite moments from The Spirit.

last exile

I’m glad I had this 13+ year gap when I didn’t watch much anime, because now there are plenty of series out there that I can catch up with. I’m waiting for the next volume of 12 Kingdoms to be released, but in the meantime I can start working my way through the series Last Exile.

Produced by Gonzo who brought you such excellent shows as Vandread and Hellsing and some not so excellent things such as an upcoming adaptation of Witchblade. Ew. I don’t think the world needs more Witchblade.

Last Exile is set in a steampunk sort of world (seems like an alternate Europe around the time of the industrial revolution), where giant ships fly through the air and the military does battle with cannons and musketmen. Claus and Lavie are a team who fly a van ship, a small aircraft. Claus is a pilot with surprising skills for someone so young — Lavie seems to be a navigator/mechanic with a more lively personality than her partner . They make their living as couriers, but take a dangerous job that sends them to a battleground in the air. They manage to survive, but when they are in the middle of a competetion (reminiscent of the pod race in Starwars) they see a pilot crash and drop out of their race to help. They end up promising to complete his mission — transporting a little girl who happens to be pursued by a freaky looking robot plane.

The character design and animation are both richly detailed — the animation ends up combining a 2-D handdrawn look with some 3-D computer generated backgrounds and ships. The first dvd sets up the story, showing how Claus and Lavie relate to each other, detailing the air-based conflict between the kingdoms of Dusis and Anatore, and showing hints of a battleship called the Sylvana which doesn’t seem to be loyal to either side of the war.

Animefringe reviews Midori No Hibi
, one of the weirdest ideas for a series I’ve ever heard.

I’m not going to see Polar Express (it just looks creepy to me) but I found this post tweaking the motion capture character design in photoshop interesting. He does manage to make the characters look less zombie like. {via}