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Joined: 05 Feb 2008
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Location: currently stalking my waifu
PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:43 pm Reply with quote
the Rancorous wrote:
dtm42 wrote:
Why - and how - the heck do you equate a fanservice-laden action show where a cute girl blows the heck out of everything with a school-based show that features gag jokes and a club which helps out the student body with such wacky hi-jinks as confessing to a love interest or helping a friend with their voice-acting career?

My thoughts exactly. I read that part of his post and went... Baffling....

My head didn't explode, but my eyes rolled so far back I saw the back of my eye-sockets. Is that normal?

Glad I wasn't the only one who was perplexed by Bento-Box's musings. Look, I accept that people have different tastes. But some of her comments went far beyond, "Well, that's her opinion," and landed straight on, "My goodness, how did she actually manage to arrive at that line of reasoning?" While the SKET Dance entry was the most egregious example, there were others too (as people have pointed out).
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:55 pm Reply with quote
I can't remember when I last posted here but I've finished (up to the latest episode that is) Bleach. After that I've also finished watching Usagi Drop and Baka to Test to Shōkanjū.

Usagi Drop is great. It's story is a refreshing change for me. This past few months I only watched shonen anime and read shojou manga. Usagi Drop was a pleasant surprise. I seldom watch this kind of shows, but I think I should watch more. What I loved about it is it has an innocent feel. The show does focus on a child, so that much is given. But that's precisely why I loved it. It was a simple story - the daily life of a child, the struggles of a parent, and the rewarding feeling of their relationship.

Baka to Test to Shōkanjū is good. I didn't think I'll watch it at first because it kind of resembled Alice Academy. I guess I also like looking for something different in the shows I watch. My brother recommended it though, so I gave it a shot. I enjoyed it. It was very funny, and the running gags of the show somehow clicked with me. I guess I really like watching idiots, because stupid as they may be academically, they are the characters who have their hearts in the right places.

Right now I'm following Baka to Test to Shōkanjū Ni. I've only watched 2 or 3 episodes but I'm feeling a romantic vibe between spoiler[Yoshii and Minami]. The episodes I've watched so far are still funny like the first season, though I've yet to see them spoiler[return to school and fight with their summoned beings again].
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Collector ExtraordinaireCollector Extraordinaire

Joined: 21 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 11:56 pm Reply with quote
Just completed the 12-episode TV series of DNA2. I did find it to be a somewhat decent romantic comedy thanks to time traveler Karin's interventions to keep Junta's Mega-Playboy personality in check that she accidentally flared up and decent developments coming off Junta's interactions with a couple girls at his school he encounters via Mega-Playboy. However, I did find the show's other elements of comedy to be hit or miss as fan service is an occasional visitor in this series to get humor off Junta's embarrassing habit to puke whenever he gets aroused. And I don't even want to get started on the final quarter of the series when spoiler[Ryuji goes into his power-crazed psycho mode and the series turns into a power-action series that goes against the mood set up in the show's earlier episodes.]
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 12:21 am Reply with quote
Ggultra2764 wrote:
Just completed the 12-episode TV series of DNA2. I did find it to be a somewhat decent romantic comedy thanks to time traveler Karin's interventions to keep Junta's Mega-Playboy personality in check that she accidentally flared up and decent developments coming off Junta's interactions with a couple girls at his school he encounters via Mega-Playboy. However, I did find the show's other elements of comedy to be hit or miss as fan service is an occasional visitor in this series to get humor off Junta's embarrassing habit to puke whenever he gets aroused. And I don't even want to get started on the final quarter of the series when spoiler[Ryuji goes into his power-crazed psycho mode and the series turns into a power-action series that goes against the mood set up in the show's earlier episodes.]
DNA2!! Memories... That was the first anime I ever saw, besides DBZ and Pokemon of course.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:47 am Reply with quote
What I've been up to since finishing Aria.

Usagi Drop

I watched this largely because I could, thanks to Siren Visual and ANN. What a piece of serendipity that turned out to be. Spoiled only by the indifferent ending to the series, the weekly broadcast became an eagerly anticapted event.

Anime likes to create odd character relationships but a 30 year old bachelor parenting his 6 year old aunt is one of the quirkier examples I've seen. It also niftily avoids anime cliches: Daikichi is constantly out of his comfort zone but is never pathetic while Rin is thoroughly moe without ever becoming a fetish object. Although the series is thoroughly sentimental it has enough acid wit and acute observation that it rarely becomes cloying. Other characters are variable, however initial negative reactions are usually softened once you get to know them better. Rin's mother is unsettling and that's the way she should be; while Yukari, Kouki's mother, is an attractive love interest if a tad Yamato Nadesico for my liking.

I liked Rin's and Daikichi's journey together through the series. Initially they are outcasts (with Rin decidedly more on the fringe of the extended family) but their relationship brings out the best qualities of each and, in doing so, they find themselves interacting more normally with their community. Therein lies the cause of the disappointingly flat conclusion to the series. The journey back to community is sweet but the final destination is decidedly mundane. The best scenes are mostly early in the series although the most memorable takes place in episode eight when Daikichi encourages Rin's mother to secretly watch Rin paying her respects at her father's grave. That episode is probably the last time Usagi Drop is outstanding.

I'm intrigued by the subsequent developments of the manga. I think they could make a superb series if handled intelligently (although the revelation that spoiler[Daikichi's grandfather isn't Rin's father] is just too convenient for my taste. I prefer difficult concepts to be explored, not avoided).

Rating: very good

Vampire Princess Miyu (OAV)

Another of my nephew's fansubs. I had borrowed the TV series from him two or three years back and not thought highly of it. Given that his fansubs are low resolution I had avoided the OAV. It turned out to be far better than the later TV series, which suffered from mind-numbing repetition and a distinct lack of character interest. At only only four episodes the OAV never wears out its welcome, while the device of using the world weary spiritualist, Himiko, as the point of view, ensures that there is an adult perspective and that the trite schoolgirl life of Miyu is largely glossed over.

Unlike the 1997 TV series, this 1988 version is genuinely creepy. The last episode delves into Miyu's back story, how her parents condemn her to an unnatural life for the sake of family tradition. It turns out that, as a child, Himiko is involved in a way that she or Miyu's family have somehow repressed. Himiko's return to the scene of that event has moments that gave me goosebumps. Not bad for a horror anime. The second episode also stands out for its beautiful shinma (demon) that gains its power by turning people into marionettes. What does she do when she falls in love with a willing victim?

The music is provided by Kenji Kawai, at a time when he was still able to sound weird. It's mostly electronic with none of the recent lush orchestrations that overwhelm any hint of strangeness.

Rating: decent. Perhaps I would rate it higher if I saw it with a video resolution that did it more justice.

La Croisée dans un Labyrinthe Étranger

What is it with the current fashion for blending languages when we in the west translate anime titles? Surely this series should go by its full Japanese title (Ikoku Meiro no Kurowaze), or a full English title (The Crossroads within a Foreign Labyrinth) or, most appropriately, its full French title (see above). The French is not only displayed in the show's title image but it's even announced in French. So, what do we get? Abominations like the Frapanese Ikoku Meiro no Croisée or the Janglish Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth. Anyone who uses these last two versions with a straight face has no right to ever again laugh at Engrish.

With that off my chest, I watched this largely thanks to ANN's summer (hey, I live in the southern hemisphere where there are bushfires in February and you go skiing in July) preview. This lived up to its Junichi Sato (he is credited with "series composition") reputation for sweet (tinged with just a little bitterness), emotive optimism. Even the way they put "The Animation" at the end of the title recalls Aria. Like Aria it has a wonderful sense of place. The French setting is sometimes cloistered, at other times expansive, but it is always dominated by the exquisite Yune. Visual and emotional contrasts are a feature of the series: Japan and France, young and old, modernism and tradition, subdued background colours and the bright clothing of the young women, the courseness of the blacksmith's workshop and the delicacy of what is created, the generosity of Yune and the repression of Claude. As with Rin in Usagi Drop, I liked the way Yune is kawaii without being sexualised. Anime would be improved if there were more of it. I especially like the opening theme and accompanying images. (I think I overdid the use of brackets in that paragraph.)

For some reason I thought it was a 26 episode series so it came as something as a shock when it unexpectedly ended. The last two episodes suddenly throw in tragic back stories for both Yune and Claude. Not only could I have handled another 13 episodes of honey but the past events could have been developed better. As it is, the tragedies feel contrived, much the way I feel with similar events in the Clannad franchise.

Rating: good

Tiger and Bunny

I watched this purely because I could and there was a dearth of legal streaming alternatives. Superheroes are an American thang. For sure, they are popular in Australia, but it's always understood that they represent American ideals of individualism and of order maintained through strength. I watch anime because it is Japanese, ie it's not American or Australian, with Japan's distinctive take on the world. American style superheroes were never on my agenda. If the series were subversive then it may have been exceptional. Alas it is not. I reckon that its creation was quite cynical. The producers were trying to ensnare two audiences: ageing shounen otaku and Americans brought up on superheroes and reality shows. I guess there's no harm in identifying your audience and selling to them accordingly, but there was nothing about this series that suggests it was anything more than a marketing exercise.

For starters, having a 30+ year old single father as the main character does not mean this is a mature series. It's not. All you get is a set of shounen encounters with oddly older characters. The relationships are shallow and sentimental, as shounen relationships generally are. The lack of a worthwhile female character is unforgiveable and a clear indication of the audience being targetted. I also disliked the relentless product placements - and no, it wasn't satire on any detectable level. I don't watch free to air television largely because of advertising. I'll put up with ad breaks in streaming because I choose not to pay. But I do not appreciate the actual object of my obsession being infected with them.

Kotetsu is an appealing clown and Barnaby is surprisingly gay, with neither description meant as a criticism. I doubt that Karina / Blue Rose will ever succeed in fully winning the heart of Kotetsu because she will never entirely supplant Barnaby. Kotetsu's and Barnaby's relationship is the core of the story and it was thanks mostly to the endearingly cranky Kotetsu that I was able to appreciate the series. Also helping was the splendiferous city of Stern Bild, even if the series never explored it sufficiently for it to become a character in its own right, as Aria achieved so magnificently with Neo Venezia.

Rating: so-so, thanks largely to Kotetsu and Stern Bild. I'll only watch a second series if I'm under the same constraints again.


The recently resurrected thread about golden ages of anime had me realising that I hadn't watched a single anime from the year 2000 that I liked. Of Blood: The Last Vampire, FLCL, Love Hina and its Christmas Special, and Vampire D: Bloodlust the highest rating I had given was so-so. Appalled by this lack of quality and always keen to explore new things I checked out the ANN search engine for year 2000's most highly ranked anime. The top two were a choice between 76 episodes of Fighting Spirit or ten minutes of Comedy. Easy choice really and how glad I was that I made the one I did.

Wow! Ten minutes of distilled magnificence. Other than its lack of overt sexual imagery this could be straight out of Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber. It hit just about every positive anime button in my psyche: the Irish setting, the bloody retribution occasioned upon the English invaders (yes, I have Irish ancestry), the magical story oozing atmosphere, the Franz Schubert music, the ever present wit, and, above all, the characters of the scheming, serious child and the subtly comic yet violent elf king (watch out for the foot in the face moment - sounds horrible but its kind of sweet). I found myself watching it over and over. It really is that good.

The title is odd. It isn't a comedy in the commonly understood sense, even if it has comic moments. It has a tongue in cheek approach that, along with the atmosphere, had me wondering if Koichi Mashimo was involved. There is a pronounced European sensibility to Comedy so I suspect the title refers to the Greek notion of comedy, ie drama with a happy ending, as opposed to tragedy, which is drama with an unhappy ending.

Rating: masterpiece. This is a beautiful exemplar of why I love anime so much.

Above: The child and the elf king part ways as seen through the eyes of the child (top) and the horse (bottom).
The top image also provides a hint as to how the elf king disposed of 200 English bodies. To be sure.

Mermaid Forest and Mermaid’s Scar (OAVs)

Chased these two OAVs down because the latter was directed by Morio Asaka (Chobits, Gunslinger Girl). I like the way the apparent sweetness of his characters glosses over some very interesting undercurrents. Both OAVs explore the trope of innocence being a mask for savagery or evil, something that Morio Asaka is known to explore. In Mermaid Forest an apparently caring sister is ultimately shown to have very sinister motives, while in Mermaid's Scar a small boy proves himself capable of the most appalling violence, a sort of pre-echo of Gunslinger Girl, although the girls of the Social Welfare Agency lack his gleeful relish for mayhem.

Anime rarely does horror effectively. When it does work it's usually of the creepy or morally disturbing type of horror. The Mermaid OVAs fit into that category, perhaps a tad more successfully than the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV. Despite their age (1991 and 1993) they are quite memorable. The very idea of spearing mermaids, roasting them over a fire then tucking in to gain eternal life is somewhat off-putting. It could have been comical – there’s even one image of a mermaid staked through the body in traditional campfire style (I'm sure you can visualise the stake's entry and exit points) – but somehow it avoids being ridiculous.

Ratings: decent for both, although the more recent one had less impact entirely because of the order I watched them.

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Finally got around to watching this. It's a bit long and it depends on knowledge of the two TV seasons to fully appreciate the gags. Nevertheless, even though I've only watched the first season, I got the gist of the second season references. The time travelling is so convoluted that I would probably need to do an in depth analysis to figure it all out. I couldn't be bothered so I trust the writers got it right.

The major appeal of the franchise is the characters. Koizumi excepted, the SOS brigade members are thoroughly entertaining. In this instalment they all end up behaving out of character, but for good reason. The only problem is Yuki’s new found moeness being pushed too relentlessly. That territory belongs to Asahina. The franchise can be seen as a sort of harem comedy (amongst other things) and the film has many elements of the genre. Kyon outshines every previous male example I've seen at the centre of the harem, simply because he is every bit as interesting as the females surrounding him. He is a wonderful match, in every way, for Haruhi in whom can be seen elements of Lum and Ryoko from more recognisable harem shows.

The characters move in odd ways at times. It's not that that they’re mechanical. In fact, they were altogether too fluid in their movements. In real life people move in a more jerky way. The Appleseed film had the same problem and the effect in both films is to give their characters a slightly unreal edge. I suspect it's due to the computer generated animation being not quite right.

I thought it was less adventurous than the series but more emotionally involving. When the five are finally gathered together in the clubroom I was inwardly cheering for them. What a sentimental soul I am. I just about jumped out of my skin when spoiler[Asakura plunged a knife into Kyon’s belly]. I had thought that nothing really bad ever happens in the franchise so it caught me totally off guard. The scene did raise an issue for me. If all the “future” characters were able to rush to his aid, why was it up to him alone to “fix” Yuki. It seems to me to be a case where the dramatic possibilities overrode the structural integrity of the narrative.

Any gripes are really just minor. I thoroughly enjoyed the film from start to finish. This and Clannad After Story (incidentally, they are directed by the same person - Tatsuya Ishihara) don’t really warrant being in the top two on the ANN Bayesian estimate but it deserves all the success it gets.

Rating: very good

In recent times I've rated too much anime as masterpieces. I think it is all relative so I've downgraded two at the lower end of my admiration to excellent: Jumping and House of Five Leaves. Where's my loyalty? Evil or Very Mad

Last edited by Errinundra on Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:16 am; edited 4 times in total
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Surrender Artist

Joined: 01 May 2011
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Location: Pennsylvania, USA
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:17 am Reply with quote
I watched Key the Metal Idol yesterday and I leave it feeling really disappointed. I had been very excited to watch this series and the first thirteen episodes, which I eagerly watched in a marathon, were good enough to vindicate that excitement, but it fell down long and hard in the end.

The series has a distinctive and interesting feel to it with a fantastic opening sequence, particularly its imagery, a lead who's subtly interesting and sympathetic and a because it executes a premise that sounds fit for a lighthearted and happy series in slightly unusual, sometimes abstract way. There are some really intense and striking moments to punctuate the series and help Key's character to change and break through. Particularly the contrast between the moment in the first episode when spoiler[what we at first think are tears at her grandfather's death streaming into Key's hands are just drops of rain dripping from her impassive face] and the point in spoiler[the twelfth episode when she cries genuine tears]. It has an neat way of ending episodes with things that don't feel like cliffhangers, they're too low-key for that, but are more moments of lingering curiosity than anxious anticipation. The series is often quite subtle and usually leaves plenty to the viewer's own intelligence. The thirteenth episode feels intense and climactic, but that's where most of my fondness for the series goes off into the wilderness.

After thirteen promising and enjoyable twenty-five minute episodes, Key the Metal Idol turns into TV on the Radio for an hour and a half of mostly relentless exposition. There are a child's handful of interesting scenes sprinkled in, but for the better part of it, it might as well just have been a radio show. it feels like a plot summary being read aloud with a thin dramatic pretense or a recap episode for things that we haven't seen. The exposition was disappointing not just for how it was prevented, but also for what it laid out. I somehow ended up being disappointed by the fact that spoiler[Key was indeed not a literal robot, but a metaphorical one in that she had been made weirdly emotionless by events in her past] and the way it spoiler[mixed the fantastically scientific with the supernatural]. It was much like the sense of disappointment I had the first time anybody in a Star Wars film said, "midichlorians." I'll willingly accept either of those things on its own terms, but when mixed, they feel like they mutually undermine one another. I'll grant that very little, if any, in this series would have stood up to scientific scrutiny had it simply kept to 'super science', but would have been more satisfying for me. That might all just be incoherent nonsense and it is a little uncharacteristic for me; but it's the best that I can presently do to explain my odd dissatisfaction.

Episode fifteen is another hour and a half, but at least one that needed to in fact be watched. By this point, the series had lost me and didn't get me back by the end. It's chief problem is that for most of it, Key isn't a very active character. She is essential to a few parts, especially at the beginning and end, but for most of it, she is talked about by the supporting cast, who are responsible for most of the action in the last episode, but aren't interesting enough for it to work. They are all, Prince Snake-Eye perhaps excepted, either too bland or too little-developed to carry it, so the last episode felt like a chore to watch. The climactic moment of episode fifteen gives us the moment that we've been waiting for since near the beginning, but dithers so much in getting to it that something to could have been triumphal didn't satisfy me. The only moment that evoked much of a response from me was spoiler[when Sakura died, because she had been a sympathetic, endearing character, but as much as I felt that sort of bracing sadness that fiction sometimes brings, I felt despair that the considerable length left to run by that point would be without one of the characters who could best make me care about its events and because it seemed to make the first act of the episode, which was about rescuing her, not quite worth the squeeze.]

The first thirteen episodes had some problems too, but far less serious ones. It would have been better to see more of some of the supporting cast, especially Utsuse Miho, the idol singer, and perhaps for there to have been more urgency in Key's actions. I would have also liked a stronger, clearer art toAjo's slide in emphasis from weapons manufacturer.

I wonder if Key the Metal Idol was originally conceived as a series of twenty-six episodes, but was forced by problems getting funding to end with an irregular structure. There were plenty of moments with evident cost-saving in the first thirteen episodes and that would explain the immobile penultimate episode. A sudden loss of chances to reveal things more naturally would also account for why the creators resorted to long, direct and often unnatural exposition in a series that had largely avoided that vice up that that point.

All of it would have been more interesting, convincing and satisfying if the audience had been given a part in figuring it all out. "Show, don't tell," sometimes seems like reflexive dogma that people toss around willy-nilly to look like incisive critics, but the idea does have merit, because being shown something, thus being called upon to comprehend and interpret something, produces more interest and investment, which both go a way toward persuading the watcher to accept what he is coming to understand.

Whatever the case, I still recommend the first thirteen episodes of Key the Metal Idol highly. Watch them and enjoy them, but then take a break to perhaps have a nice meal or read a few chapters of a book, then get a glass of scotch, or perhaps just some good root beer, anything that one wouldn't find in a fast-food soda fountain should do, and finish it for the sake of completeness with a certain resignation to disappointment in mind.

I'll probably watch this again some day. The first thirteen are still damned good and perhaps the finale will be better upon later reconsideration.

Some free-floating observations...

I really liked the line, "With the eyes closed, the mind has a perfect view," from the English version of the opening song.

There's more nudity in this than I'd expected; I suppose that it isn't anything egregious, but Sakura certainly seems to enjoy taking showers.

When I first heard of Key the Metal Idol a long, long time ago, I was not very familiar with Japanese culture and didn't know what an Idol was, so I assumed that it was some show about an idol in the sense of a sacred icon or statue in some vague non-Christian religion, you know, something with priests in elaborate headdresses standing on top of a ziggurat.

Last edited by Surrender Artist on Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:32 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:07 am Reply with quote
In order to provide readers of the above post a judgement to weigh against that of Surrender Artist, I suggest against resigning oneself to disappointment when approaching the finale of Key the Metal Idol. What has been written of episode fourteen cannot be reasonably denied, though its numerous flaws are compensated by the tense, joyous, yet lingeringly cathartic episode following it. With all due respect to Surrender Artist, the statement that that episode fifteen is a chore to watch is intriguing in its dissimilarity to one's own reflections of the series' pinnacle scenes. spoiler[One of the most striking of which was the sequence during which the protagonists approach and ascend the complex in search of Sakura, not least because of the choice of musical accompaniment.] Because the directorial touches through which the show initially flourishes remain abundant in its conclusion, I hold that the accusation of tediousness should fall squarely upon the unsatisfactory penultimate chapter. Furthermore, if the thirteen initial episodes have imparted unto the viewer a sufficient affection for Key's plight, I would expect their responses to the last segment to express satisfaction at the least. As a viewer with less of a concern for the formal matters identified in the above post, my attitudes certainly lie in favour of Key's culmination.
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Space CowboySpace Cowboy

Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 3280
Location: Akron, OH
PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 1:50 pm Reply with quote
I marathoned Ro-Kyu-Bu! yesterday, and the series surprised me by being ... good. Admittedly, I started it with low expectations because of its description. However, its idea of playing a sport for the love of the game -- not just to win -- and seeing how this basketball club reignites that love in a couple of the characters, and starts it in the others, really won me over. (ETA: Though, I'm sure that's a sports-anime cliche. I have not watched many.)

Still, it has its faults. I could have done without some of the more fetish-y elements, like the girls dressing as maids and greeting the main character Suburu as "master." Also, almost two full episodes were spent with everyone in swimsuits, which is odd for a series about basketball. And, like a typical harem lead, Suburu is caught in embarrassing situations with the girls -- which are never his fault, he's a perfect gentleman to them -- and is abused for it by the older female cast members.

Overall, I rate the series Good. It was definitely worth seeing. Sentai's releasing it, and it may end up on my shelves.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 5:08 pm Reply with quote
Just started watching Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. I just felt like watching shonen, and I haven't seen this one yet. Seen 2 episodes so it's pretty difficult to say if it's good, but as long as it's going to have some shonen power ups and those cool moments that you get goosebumps from I'll enjoy it. Had some funny moments already and I'm liking the 1st opening theme.

Also watching Kara no Kyoukai and I've got 7th movie and the OVA left to watch. Really lost interest into this one after the 6th movie. I actually thought it was a spin off or something so I had to look it up, it wasn't. The 7th movie is the longest and I have a feeling it's going to be a long dreary two hours, so I really haven't gotten into the mood to watch it yet.

And I'm also watching Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Seen 7 episodes so far and it's been good. It's really centered around these 3 characters, which I like, and it's got some really heartwarming moments. Both the opening theme and the ending theme are good, which really motivates me to watch the next episode.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:57 pm Reply with quote
Just finished Vampire Knight Guilty, having watched it through the lens of knowledge of the English manga release. It took quite a few more liberties with the source material than the first part of the series, but kept the core of what happened between the characters. Basically, you'll love it if you liked the first part, with the stakes raised. Highlights include the Yuki/Kaname/Zero triangle reaching a crescendo, the development of a friendship between Yuki and Aido, a major storyline for Shiki, and kick-butt mode for Yuki's foster father Kaien Cross, whose past had previously been hinted at.

It may, however, completely frustrate fans who aren't following the manga, as several plot threads end on cliffhangers and will leave them forced to either start following the manga or hoping that the series will be continued. I really hope it does, because at least in the manga the story is just getting better and better.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2011 9:20 pm Reply with quote
Cam0 wrote:
And I'm also watching Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Seen 7 episodes so far and it's been good.

Oh boy, you're in for a treat. I wouldn't say it necessarily gets better, just more focused, with a proper ending that gives emotional closure to what was undoubtedly a pretty scary, often hectic and sometimes hellish journey. Imagine that, an Anime show that actually manages to wrap everything up nicely in its scant eleven episodes. It is quite a feat, with even most two-cour series unable to manage it.
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Tony K.

Joined: 18 Nov 2003
Posts: 9864
Location: Frisco, TX
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 4:52 am Reply with quote
Trigun: Badlands Rumble - Blu-ray review.

Movie - 4.5 / 5.0

Long-time anime fans should be no stranger to the world of Trigun. For all the goofy, donut-eating, light-hearted, love and peace(~!) moments and all the unknowing and spontaneous chaos and destruction brought about by just his mere presence alone, The Humanoid Typhoon, Vash the Stampede, is renowned for his naive, yet charming personality and is easily one of the more memorable characters in anime lore. But good grief, can you believe it's been 12 years since the TV series ended? Needless to say, the Sixty Billion Double Dollar Man is back for another go-around. If you're new to the anime medium and have no idea what I'm talking about, Trigun is an anime Spaghetti Western (with a little bit of sci-fi) that follows the adventures of Vash the Stampede, a socially-labeled outlaw of outlaws that is said to be the worst thing you could come across at any point of your life. They say he's big, they say he's bad, and if you're lucky they say you'll die a quick death! But in truth, it's just a bunch of rumors. As I mentioned earlier about his happy-go-lucky qualities, Vash the Stampede is just trying to live his life and make the world a better place along his travels. Unfortunately, trouble does follow him pretty much everywhere he goes. Character analysis aside, this film is a one-shot story taking place in the Trigun universe in which a bank robber named Gasback is foiled by his own henchmen, only to be saved by Vash, but then pursues a plot of revenge against his former cronies. In the meantime, the last remaining target of Gasback's vengeance has put a rather large bounty on anyone who can stop him. I can't say much else that could entice newcomers, but if you've seen the series and know its material you will absolutely love the atmosphere. Pretty much all of the fan-favorite characters make their return appearance (all the good guys, anyway), and the writing itself is very fun and quirky like the first half of the series (before things got a lot darker). For dub fans, the only returning voice actor is Johnny Yong Bosch, but all the replacement actors do an excellent job filling in the gaps. And if this is your first time experiencing Trigun, definitely give the TV series a look. FUNimation did license both the series and movie and have reported that they do eventually plan on putting the series on BD at some point, so hope that they do it soon and keep an eye out for it.

Video - 5.0 / 5.0

I'm a bit biased here about the video presentation in 3 ways: 1) I'm a big fan of Madhouse and always have been; their animation is very high quality on a consistent basis and a lot of the TV shows, OVAs, and movies they've produced over the years have always ranked as some of my favorite anime titles. 2) as I said it's been 12 years since Trigun the TV series aired in Japan, and while it looks good, even the remastered DVDs show the animation's age, so I'm glad to see the same style redone with today's technology. And 3) it's an anime movie, which means a really high budget and less time constraints will make for a seemingly superior product both in terms of video and audio presentation when compared to a TV series. So with that said, we get Badlands Rumble presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, an obvious upgrade from the series' 4:3 presentation back in the day. Not only am I delighted to see the Trigun world in true widescreen, but the HD video quality is the best I've ever seen the franchise look. Oddly enough, the movie is digitally-produced but has a very cel animation look to it, as talked about in the extras with chief animation director, Takahiro Yoshimatsu. The results are utterly astounding, though, as I looked at both my remastered DVDs of the series and compared its quality to the movie. Granted, it's 12 years later with better technology and a bigger budget, but it's rare that I that I find an anime feature film that really reflects the amount of work put into, especially with a project as delayed as this had been. The line detail is my favorite part of the presentation giving the art style a very distinct look that's closer to the original manga design. Colors are extremely well-saturated with reds, yellows, and charcoals making up a majority of the color palette for the world's desserty theme. And they even added some grain to give the movie a more filmic and gritty texture that really makes it feel like the Old West. And even better, I can't say I remember any instances of banding, aliasing, or artifacting despite the movie itself being a digital production. Then again, the first time I saw this was at AnimeFest 2011 where the source was a DVD-R copy on a crappy projector in a badly-seated conference room and with even crappier audio.

Audio - 5.0 / 5.0

As I said, the audio in that screening was crap. I sat in the third row closest to the speakers and could still barely make sense of the important parts (it was a dubbed screening, by the way). But boy howdy, does it sound better in lossless and in the comfort of my own home. Something else I should bring up with the case of anime on BD is that a lot of titles I've seen haven't had much in terms of true surround audio. Most TV shows these days in Japan are only even produced with a 2-channel sound design in mind, and when they come to the States the companies are simply remixing the audio masters in a quasi-matrixed (i.e. artificial) 5.1 dub. Sure, the idea of 5.1 English dubs SOUNDS like a good idea, but they're not true surround experiences. It's not often that a TV show actually gets one (unless it's just really high-budget like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex or anything else by Kenji Kamiyama), but when we actually do get the chance for the real thing I'm especially happy about it. With that said, the TrueHD 5.1 tracks for both the Japanese and English tracks sound perfect. Something that always bugged me about those artificial 5.1 tracks was the fact that dialogue sounded so damn quiet from the center. But here it's flawless in either language (both of which you really can't go wrong in terms of acting either). The sound effects and music (all hail Tsuneo Imahori for coming back to compose!) are spectacular as well. Gunshots, blowing wind, sand and gravel, and all the people chattering in the background have an amazing amount of depth and clarity. Action sequences, in particular, possess some great separation and directionality; the scene where Wolfwood makes his first appearance has a LOT of gunfire effects, and the bar fight with all the hooligans yelling about offers a good deal of sonic immersion. LFEs are potent and fitting for the movie's subtitle (Rumble), and while the sound design certainly isn't on the level of a Hollywood blockbuster, it still does its job with great precision. My favorite scenes for audio are the bar fight or all the craziness that ensues (both visually and aurally) and the scene at the end where Vash fights Gasback.

Extras - 5.0 / 5.0

I really have to hand it to FUNimation for this one. Previously, just about all of their other BDs have had next to nothing worth of special features outside of some English cast commentaries that never really contributed anything worthwhile to the creation process or provided any truthful insight into the shows they adapted. But here, there's a good 2+ hours of special features and all with the original Japanese cast and crew. 1-on-1 interviews include: creator Yasuhiro Nightow (11:08), voice of Vash, Masaya Onosaka (8:59), voice of Milly, Satsuki Yukino (one of my favorite female actors in all of anime, 8:31), director Satoshi Nishimura (11:06), voice of Wolfwood, Shou Hayami (who I am so not used to hearing as a good guy, 10:00), voice of Amelia, Maaya Sakamoto (one of my favorite vocalists ever, 6:43), chief animation director, Takahiro Yoshimatsu (7:26), voice of Meryl, Hiromi Tsuru (3:12), and voice of Gasback, Tsutomu Isobe (7:06). All of them give VERY insightful comments on the general worldview of Trigun, their past experiences on the TV series (where applicable), their new experiences in doing the movie, and a lot of other interesting opinions. The interviews are rather candid, yet cordial and I have to say if you've ever seen these kinds of omake where cast and crew sit in front of the camera and answer questions, there are loads of things you can learn from them. Additional features include: Movie Premiere at Cinema Sunshine Ikebukuro (8:47), Post Recording (a couple of scenes voice acted to storyboards, 3:51), A Mildly Amusing Story by Something Yoshimatsu (0:28), Video Footage from Anime Expo 2009 (1:38), Talk Event at Kawasaki Cinecitta (3:32), Special Talk Show (a big and very enjoyable interaction between cast, crew, and 800 attendees for the premiere, 38:16), and then a bunch of trailers I won't go on to list. The Special Talk Show was by far the funnest feature for me. Anime and manga has such a strong following in Japan, and to see people of the industry having so much fun with their fans is a real treat to watch and listen to. FUNimation, if you're reading this, put more extras like this on your BDs!

Overall - 5.0 / 5.0

It's been a few years since I've seen Trigun the series. But it left such a lasting impression that I still like it a lot to this day. And seeing this film makes me want to watch it again and even has me curious about the manga. Production values are through the roof with all of the Japanese cast returning, and at least Johnny Yong Bosch returning for the English dub. Regardless, though, even the new stand-ins do a great job, and I would definitely say you can't go wrong with either language track. I had absolutely no problems with the A/V quality, and I LOVE the fact that FUNimation actually put forth the effort of including all sorts of interesting interview material from the creator, cast, and crew of the film and series. Here's hoping for another movie, or even an adaptation of Trigun Maximum. If you're a fan of the series, this is a must-own. Casual anime fans, or even non-anime watchers, should at least give it a rent. And if you like it, try the series, too. Love and Peace~!
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:20 pm Reply with quote
Last year I saw about half of Red Garden with a friend before we stopped having time to watch it (I liked it but I think it wasn't quite her thing) but a few weeks ago someone brought it to my anime club and I decided to try and start over from the beginning after seeing the first few episodes for a second time. Having to watch the dub this time this that's all Funi has put online but it works for me since the show is set in NYC (also curious to see if the random singing works better in English, my club reacted, erm, vocally to the singing in the Japanese track).
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anime racket

Joined: 26 Apr 2011
Posts: 313
PostPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:08 pm Reply with quote
Recently I've watched The End of Evangelion for the first time ever.
It truly is a shocking piece of animation but features some truly
cool scenes. My favorite is when spoiler[shinji strangles asuka
during third impact and komme, susser todd starts playing.]
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Location: Melbourne, Oz
PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:41 am Reply with quote
On the weekend I marathoned Angel Beats!. Twice. One straight after the other. For sure it’s only a 13 episode series but it gives you some idea how much pleasure I got from the adventures of Kanade, Yuri and Otonashi in the afterlife.

Apart from the preposterous (but highly entertaining) premise Angel Beats! follows some well worn paths. Yuri Nakamura, the in-your-face leader of the Shinda Sekai Sensen (the Afterlife Battlefront), is highly reminiscent of Haruhi Suzumiya in both appearance and behaviour. Tachibana Kanade (I left her name in Japanese order because its musical pronunciation is noted in the anime and it just doesn’t sound right in European order) is yet another mauve haired quiet girl in the mould of Rei Ayanami or Yuki Nagato. There’s a standard issue genki girl (Yui), and an all-girl school band in the mould of Enoz. Even Yuri’s brigade is known as the SSS, which brings to mind Haruhi yet again. You could say that, whereas Haruhi lives in a mundane world and yearns for something abnormal, Yuri Nakamura inhabits a crazy world and is desperate for some normality. These “otaku data elements” are never a problem, however. Angel Beats either infuses them with an unexpected level of sophistication or, thanks to the clever writing, uses them in amusing ways. It doesn’t insult the viewer with fanservice, idiotic or otherwise.

Everybody in Angel Beats! is dead. If you are killed you spring back to life shortly afterwards. This isn’t a spoiler – you learn both these salient details a few minutes into the first episode. The characters inhabit a sort of purgatory and must come to terms with their previous truncated and traumatic lives before passing on. It seems that, until protagonist Yuzuru Otonashi comes along, Yuri and her merry band of followers just don’t get the big picture. They blame god for their misfortune and declare war upon him. The brunt of their fury is borne by student president, Tachibana Kanade (just savour the rhythm of that name), whose deadly abilities are unhappily revealed to Otonashi early in the first episode. The premise allows for copious, and often brilliant, black humour. The most memorable moment is when one student hypnotises another so that he thinks a deadly killer is a harmless girl. The skewering of the victim takes up just enough time for people to get past the killer. It sounds awful but it’s very funny and, hey, the victim will come back to life in a few minutes. Mind you, dying still hurts.

Above all, it’s the three lead characters and the emotive way their tale unfolds that make this series special. Yuri may come across as a Haruhi clone at first blush but, while she isn’t as over-the-top, she is more complex. She has an innate understanding of the other students and how to motivate them, along with an inexhaustible well of protectiveness. Her judgement is usually acute and decisive even if she is as irascible as a mule and as sly as a fox. By the end of the third episode, there is no question any longer why so many people in that world follow her without question. Yuri is one impressive character.

It takes rather longer to appreciate the qualities of Kanade, or Tenshi (“Angel”) as most of the students call her, is. As the SSS’s enemy and being the archetype of the quiet, set upon girl, there isn’t much opportunity at first to see inside her mind. As she and Otonashi get to know each other better, her observant, astute and kindly nature comes to the fore. The relationship between the two is entirely natural seeming in the way it grows - a credit to the deft writing of Jun Maeda.

One of the curses of anime has been how shows with multiple impressive female characters are usually burdened with forgettable male leads. Not so with Otonashi who may be hapless at first but that's only because of his ignorance concerning the rules of the game. Mild mannered and generous he is the perfect foil to Yuri and the perfect match for Kanade. It is Otonashi who has the wit to understand what Kanade is trying to tell people and then to convince them to follow her wisdom. Don’t believe for a moment that he and Kanade are dour types. They can both be screamingly funny.

Because a person’s presence in the world of Angel Beats is linked to their experiences in their previous life, considerable time is spent on their individual backstories. In some instances, the events are so horrible they stretch credibility. I suppose it could be argued that extreme trauma is a key selection criterion for entry into that strange universe. All the same, beyond the three leads the rest of the cast are generally single trait characters, although Yui the genki girl is quite a treat.

The premise may be crazy but the series culminates in one of the best emotional pay-offs I’ve yet experienced in anime. The final episode is both bitter and sweet and when the significance of the anime’s title is revealed in the penultimate scene… well, just have a box of tissues handy.

Rating: very good. I suspect it will have a high re-watch value in which case I would increase the rating.

Last edited by Errinundra on Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:53 am; edited 3 times in total
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