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Surrender Artist
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Joined: 01 May 2011
Posts: 3100
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 11:34 pm Reply with quote
So, I watched Dragonaut: The Resonance, in English on Hulu, a while back and in all honesty, I didn’t mind doing so. I’m not sure if it exceeded my expectations or failed to meet them, because I approached it expecting abominable, but all that I got was lousy. It had a mediocre, familiar, but confused science fiction story that was, once it whirred into motion, enough for me to slip into a haze and half-enjoy it, even if I could only look disdainfully at myself in the mirror after the fact for being some sort of human entertainment dumpster.

By the way, I genuinely like Citizen Kane. It’s an impressive and intriguing masterpiece of cinema. I just wanted to point that out, then write some more about Dragonaut: The Resonance.

Dragonaut: The Resonance is rich with stupid little touches that I can’t imagine seemed like good ideas even at the time. Consider the dumb nicknames: one of the lead characters is regularly referred to as, “The Album,” for no explained reason. Another gem is that there is a deranged obsessive character who ends up with a scar in the middle of his forehead. This is supposed to be dramatic and symbolic, but the scar isn’t very bad and what’s worse is that for much of the series he runs around with a patch over it, so he looks like he wanted to be a Pirate for Halloween, but couldn’t decide which eye to cover, or maybe he was just wearing some weird, Paris runway pantyhose over his head.

Incidentally, Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men is one of my favorite films.

The series’ goes through several story arcs, twisting enough along the way to inculcate at least a little curiosity as to what might happen next. A few of them have good ideas and some good component parts, but never seemed to hang together well. The series does little to build a sense of its world and internal logic. A lot of strange things happen, but they are seldom explained in a timely fashion and never really questioned, thus leaving one confused without a sense that the sources of that confusion are a mystery building toward a solution. In retrospect, I wasn’t even sure what the Dragonauts were doing before the story began or how the world of the series worked. The menacing Thanatos entity that lurks at the edge of the solar system is a cool, though not novel, looming threat that has a pleasing old-fashioned science fiction feeling, but no good effort to understand its nature, motives and origins is every made. From what can be discerned, I almost doubt that it could be understood, which makes the whole choice of looming threat seem ill-considered. Whatever, it all just culminates with the power of love saving the world anyway.

On a side note, I really love the cinematic adaptation of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. It has a cast drawn from The Royal Shakespeare Company for crying out loud!

The greatest fault of Dragonaut: The Resonance is its characters. Few of them, if any of them at all, are interesting, sympathetic, likeable or worthy of some other approving adjective. The principals, Jin (I had to look that up) and Toa show ephemeral glimmers of an interesting relationship, but little such interest manifests. Jin is annoying and whiny, then he becomes bland. Toa is whiny and simpering, despite supposedly being very powerful, and never becomes much else. All sorts of questions about the nature and origins of their relationship are asked and could even be interesting questions, but they are waved away with pleasant assertions, or just ignored. A relationship derived from the profound guilt of one that caused the deep grief of another that might have a mechanical, rather than emotional origin, if that matters at all, could supply an intense, complex emotional core for the series, but instead it piffles away in banality. So badly was it executed that when a horrible, tragic revelation was made, I burst into laughter rather than any more appropriate, sympathetic feeling. Characterization of the supporting cast is mostly perfunctory. There are flashback scenes, lines of dialogue and even sub-plots within an episode for a few, but they are too fleeting things that want for depth and intensity. There is one, between Akira and her dragon Machina, that succeeded in evoking some sentimentality and interest in me because some consistent attention was paid to it, but it was really only a quartz in the rough.

Unrelatedly, something that doesn’t suffer from such poor characterization is Casablanca. I just thought that I’d point that out.

The personalities and motivations of a few characters are almost absent and incomprehensible. The character of Widow is never given much more than a single hazy flashback and one or two lines of dialogue about loss that explain nothing very clearly, leaving her choice of becoming Kazuki’s dragon and remaining with him as he becomes a progressively abusive, idiotic and insufferable wretch inexplicable. Perhaps Widow was meant to be seen as analogous to a wife who is emotionally trapped in abusive relationship, but a few passing melancholy expressions hardly supplies the sense of character needed for that to work. Kazuki himself is just an awful character. I don’t mean merely that he does awful things, but that crudity and inelegance of how his obsessive psychosis is portrayed makes him both unconvincing and annoying. My opinion of the series would have leapt quite a lot higher if somebody had just murdered the bastard, ideally in a painful fashion, but instead he gets some hurried, slapdash redemption that just made me lust even harder for his gruesome annihilation.

Another work from Japan that doesn’t suffer from these sorts of problems is Tokyo Story, which I recommend.

It’s at least a good looking series, for the most part. I’ll withhold comment upon the designs of several of the female characters. You all know how to type ‘Makoto Uno” into a search engine and I’m still trying to pay all of the h’s that I needed to write about Shikabane Hime off, so I can’t afford all of the b’s and o’s that I’d need to describe them. The animation is mostly quite competent and the series is quite pleasing to the eyes in various ways from time to time. I didn’t care for the computer-generated dragons. They looked relatively nice for a television budget, but that still means not great and I didn’t like their designs, which were bedecked with so many tacky geegaws as to be confusing to the eye.

Hey, you know what I saw the day before I started watching Dragonaut: The Resonance? Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams! No foolin’!

So, I haven’t much good to say about Dragonaut: The Resonance, but I’m left with the embarrassing fact that I nevertheless didn’t all that much mind watching it, at least once it got away from its male lead agonizing and started with its main story. It almost feels like production team wrote an outline of some things that they wanted in their series on a notepad, but didn’t develop and connect them in time for production. I can’t say that it even approaches good, but I suppose that I can just sort of dull-mindedly enjoy certain things over a few lazy evenings, even if in retrospect, I can’t quite comprehend why.

Oh, and… uh… F For Fake, Der Himmel Über Berlin, The Manchurian Candidate, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Smoke, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, Metropolis, Brazil… ah, you get the point.

(A mildly amusing aside: Somehow the episode list on Hulu is confounded such that episode one is followed by episode 14 and so forth, so when I first watched it, the playlist duly went from the premier to the middle of the series, but since that begins with a flashback to, “3 years ago,” I at briefly thought that the series was experimenting with some sort of avant-garde, nonlinear storytelling)

I also watched 009-1, which was less exasperating.

009-1 is a series that made a smaller impression upon me than I think that it deserved to and I’m not quite sure why. I appreciate its old-fashioned espionage thriller sensibilities and I really liked the titular cyborg: 009-1, or Mylene Hoffman. She was a competent, effective female protagonist and although drawn with a sexually exaggerated design and not infrequently in sexual situations, she never seemed demeaned by them as she seemed to have command of each and every one of them. She also manages to convincingly manifest qualities other than steely confidence and calculated sultriness without ever losing her impressive essence. Her tenderer side is rightfully made an aspect of her, rather than denaturing the character. I also give Alice Fulks credit for giving her a coolly assertive tone. There are other women in the 009 unit, but they appear in only a few episodes, whilst the series otherwise stays close to 009-1. It’s slightly disappointing that they aren’t seen and explored more, so none of them ever acquire much by way of depth and the limited use of the recurring cast limits the extent to which Mylene’s character can be developed.

The episodes largely stand alone, though there is some narrative and emotional continuity among them, as almost compact thriller films. Each is a built upon a recognizable thriller story archetype that is executed quite well and twisted with science fiction touches, whether the constant fact that most of the intelligence agents are cyborgs or more singular once like an android secretly made of gold. Surprisingly, the series sometimes it musters a quiet, contemplative atmosphere, which is a case of its concentration upon its protagonist being rewarding. The dominant feel, however, is an satisfyingly old-fashioned sense of adventure. The best is probably the episode that sees Mylene face The Egg, a professional killer who lives and works according to so many elaborate rules that he must have the world's coolest case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The series finishes with some linked episodes that sum to a well enough told story, but it could have been even better had the series concentrated more upon a larger story and its associated themes.

009-1 has some interesting aesthetics. The protagonist and other agents are look like more or less what one would expect of a Bond girl reïnterpreted by Japanese character designers. The other secondary and incidental characters display a more interesting blend of styles. Some have plain, but pleasing and relatively realistic designs, but others have the strange, idiosyncratic bulbous noses, oddly shaped heads and weird hair that are distinctive of Shotaro Ishinomori. I liked them as a nice show of fidelity to the creator and as refreshment from the familiar; although I can easily understand why some might find them deterring and I admit that they were incongruous. Another curious, but endearing touch is that Mylene’s chief weapon is a laser gun; an old-style teardrop-shaped ray gun that fires a powerful, crisp blue beam and killer light. The weapon, even if we can’t take its look seriously anymore, is shown to be pretty serious business, whether killing with a single, clean hold bored through a victim’s forehead, or slicing stone columns in half.

In way, I suppose that 009-1 is a show that shouldn’t be taken seriously in the coolest way. It never really struck me as campy or winkingly ludicrous, but it is clearly interested in style and fun over other considerations. Somehow, thinking and writing about it has made me like it better in retrospect. I suppose that I wish there were more.

Another show that wasn’t exasperating, but was a little surprising, was Sands of Destruction. That it was based upon a video game was discouraging, especially a game that few seem to think well of, even if it diverged significantly from that game, but nonetheless, it was a really entertaining, though not enduring, fantasy series.

I was snookered into it all, as I often seem to be, by how likeable the lead characters were. I don’t need likeable characters if they are otherwise interesting and complex or the story is impressive, but they always help and given that Sands of Destruction can’t lay claim to great sophistication of character or story, the merits of the principals had to bear a lot. Somehow, they did. The one that could have ruined it all was Kyrie, who is the cowardly, domesticated one who came dangerously close to being another milquetoast, but he only ever skirted that, otherwise being goofily endearing and seldom given enough attention to become a nuisance. Kyrie is more or less how the audience is meant to find their way into the story, but the other leads were why they’d stay. Morte is a fierce, if pretty, ball of adolescent anger at the world, which she literally wants to destroy, for which she has been dubbed, “The World Destruction Committee,” but the series never lingers too much on that. Considerable time is given to lay the tragedies of her past out that drive her to be bitterly nihilistic, but her actions betray a clearly growing insincerity in her professed apocalyptic desire, which spares her from being another tedious Canal Street Nietzsche, which is annoying as a villain and would be unbearable as a protagonist. The most entertaining character, however, is Toppy, who looks like a teddy-bear pirate, but speaks with a cooly heroic, firmly masculine voice and several times handily whomps crowds of opponents. His attempts to be grandly heroic and noble are always played very straight, which works out as a charming and amusing. The antagonists aren’t bad, but they aren’t given quite enough attention to really amount to much. Lia is a pleasantly fierce woman and even just a little bit interesting. Her partner Nadja is pleasant enough and his calmness makes him a halfway decent foil for his aggressive partner.

The English cast is good. I’m a sucker for Luci Christians’ ‘tough girl’ voice, which she applies with aplomb to Morte. The really star is, I think, Robert McCollum as Toppy. He plays the part in a manly, impressive tone with perfect sincerity and conviction, which amounts to being pretty funny. Todd Haberkorn’s meekly masculine tone is a good fit to Kyrie and never grates. I also really liked Trina Nishimura, who ably plays a part that’s pretty near perfectly opposite her other rôle as a gunslinger in El Cazador de la Bruja.

It’s not a visually impressive series. The animation rises to average, but that’s just fine for this sort of thing. The character designs are good, especially the aforementioned pirate teddy bear and Lia’s gunslinging nun outfit. There is also an anthropomorphized elephant with an epic beard. I am not making that up. The action scenes, which aren’t all that common, are for the most part not memorable, but there is one in scene episode three where the director just eschews visual coherence in favor of something wild, odd and just a little bit fantastic. There’s little visual invention otherwise, which is a shame, although I doubt that the episode three technique would have had great legs.

Sands of Destruction is preponderantly episodic. There are a few overarching themes, but for the most part the characters just wander from point to point having an adventures. That might seem tedious, but it’s not. The series does hurry up and have a plot near the end. It’s not at all original or novel, but it is ably put together and sews up the events of the series pretty well. Nevertheless, I wish that this had been a longer series. I liked the characters well enough and there was enough promise in them that I think that with more time, this could have been really good. I like it as it stands, but if there had just had more time and ambition, this could have been much richer. In spite of the narrative danger in doing so, I would have liked the series to dwell more upon Morte’s desire to destroy the world and just maybe gently pick it apart. Lia too could be elaborated upon fruitfully, especially her relationship with Kyrie, which is just a curious, perfunctory aside, but might have ended up as interesting with more detail. If nothing else, I wish there were more episodes because I was having a good time watching this and wasn’t quite ready for it to end.

Lastly, I sampled handfuls of episodes of a few series. To wit…

I watched the first episode of Freezing in the spirit of morbid curiosity. I did not, frankly, think very highly of it. The premise is one a species that I wearied of quickly and there was a lot of clumsy exposition. I know that settings and situations like this need to be explained, but a little patience could allow a far more natural approach. But, whatever, I really just wanted to see how preposterous the violence was. My answer: pretty preposterous, of course it worked out as hilarious because of the fantastically hamfisted censorship that entailed enormous, fuzzily-edged black patches. There was one that filled all but the lower right corner of the screen! Aside from a few cringes at some particularly brutal, or so I would imagine, scenes, most of if elicited little reaction. Then the last few minutes happened, wherein one girl is involuntarily exposed and our presumed male protagonist buries himself in the female protagonist’s bosom and in effect motorboats it like an engine in low gear for while as he bawls about his dead sister or something. I don’t know, I don’t care, I want him dead. I almost want to watch more to see if somebody kills him, and maybe to see if the violence seen in the premiere is topped, but past experience has taught me that the whiny milquetoast never dies, goddamn it, and holding out for something to beat an ignominious record isn’t worth it.

I watched the English dub of the first two episodes of The Sacred Blacksmith out of curiosity and to see if it was still worthy of the disdain that I had cultivated when I had watched the Japanese dub with subtitles a few months ago. Briefly: Yes, yes it was. I wasn’t too keen on the English dub, especially Blake Shepard, who was really obnoxious as Luke Ainsworth. The most interesting thing that I took away from this is that my theory about preferences as to the version of an anime might not stem from quality, but rather a bias toward whatever version is seen first and thus sets expectations.

Lastly, I watched the first three episodes of Spice and Wolf. I had only meant to watch the first two, but I couldn’t quite stop myself that short. I had been apprehensive about this, not because I thought that I would be bored by the mechanics of commerce, which in fact I found quite intriguing, but because I was afraid that I would find the series’ portrayal of them annoying unsophisticated. In fact, I found them to be just about right. They supply enough intellectual depth to be interesting, but the series seem to know the limits of using intellectual themes well enough to not overplay its hand with them. Watching a story about currency trading made me want to get out my copy of The Valuation of Fixed Income Securities and bootstrap some bonds. What I was really impressed by, however, is how well I liked the leads together. Lawrence and Holo make for a pretty charming pair and Holo herself is just really engaging. I was a little uncertain when she made her nude debut, not because of the nudity, which made sense for her character, but because of a few shots that had, shall I say, dubiously prurient composition, but those were few and far from the purpose, or even hobbies, of the series. There’s something about wry, mercurial characters like her that I really enjoy. Brina Palencia gives a wonderful performance in the part, managing to be both haughty and whimsical. The only reason that I stopped at three episodes is because I think that I will want to buy this one of these days and want to save the rest of the experience for that.

I almost watched some of Heaven's Lost Property because of its lovely, almost poetic title, but discarded that idea after I'd read enough about it to expect that I'd just end up with bruises from repeatedly forcing my palm into my face and some sort of disfigurement from frequent snarling in disgust.

*sigh*

Well north of three thousand words and most of them were about Dragonaut.
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mglittlerobin



Joined: 28 Aug 2008
Posts: 757

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:56 am Reply with quote
Marathoned Moribito yesterday on Hulu. It was awesome, dub was great and had the best spear fight animation I've ever seen. Really enjoyed it.
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The King of Harts



Joined: 05 May 2009
Posts: 6710
Location: Mount Crawford, Virginia

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:14 pm Reply with quote
mglittlerobin wrote:
Marathoned Moribito yesterday on Hulu. It was awesome, dub was great and had the best spear fight animation I've ever seen. Really enjoyed it.

How many shows have spear fights, though?
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egoist
Pirate KingPirate King


Joined: 20 Jun 2008
Posts: 7675

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:34 pm Reply with quote
What I'm not watching right now? A-Channel. There's really nothing here. It's like a better version of Chu-Bra!; it's better compared to it, but overall still awful.

Also gonna get a lot pickier with what I watch (yes I still love anime, but I'll have to manage my free time better as I'm trying to improve my career through studies starting soon). For example, consider Nichijou dropped, and so is Hyouge Mono. Nichijou became deadly repetitive, and I don't feel entertained anymore, and I feel Hyouge Mono is much of a waste of effort considering the availability. And from my list, Maria Holic is also dropped; season 2 seems really inferior to season 1, and I didn't care much for season 1. Next drop is Sofuteni, which really doesn't offer much either. And so are Pretty Rhythm and Hen Zemi.

Sayonara, see you never.
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Blood-
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 15127
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:08 pm Reply with quote
I feel a new nickname coming on: egoist the Dropper. Not quite the same flair as Alexander the Great, but...
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egoist
Pirate KingPirate King


Joined: 20 Jun 2008
Posts: 7675

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:46 pm Reply with quote
I don't mind. It feels great to have a load of boring stuff out of my watching list. Just wish I had done it earlier with Lotte and Hoshizora. Laughing
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Blood-
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 07 Mar 2009
Posts: 15127
Location: Toronto, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:03 pm Reply with quote
I should get better at culling the herd, myself. Can't really justify sticking with Astarotte's Toy until the bitter end, but I did. I'm sort of stalled at eppie 10 with Tiger & Bunny but can't seem to make the decision to cut it loose. It is by no means a bad show but it just isn't really grabbing me for whatever reason.
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Unicorn_Blade



Joined: 18 Jul 2010
Posts: 1040
Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:45 pm Reply with quote
egoist wrote:
and I feel Hyouge Mono is much of a waste of effort considering the availability.

Sayonara, see you never.


It's a real shame about Hyouge Mono- that was the one series I was really looking forward to watch, did not believe it will even come out, then it did, and then it stopped. I for one still hope to be able to watch it someday-oneday (maybe in like 10 years time when I actually properly sit down to learn Japanese, I stopped hoping that the series will be subbed)
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 12995
Location: NZL

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 5:29 pm Reply with quote
Finished Ga-Rei-Zero, rated it as Very Good.

"Read the Manga". Three words that an Anime fan never wants to hear, as all too often they are used to justify endings that are confusing, truncated or just plain non-existent.

Ga-Rei-Zero is intriguingly enough a proper prequel to the Manga and not a simple adaptation, and what it does right is provide emotional closure to many of the characters, not just to Kagura and Yomi. What it completely, horribly and utterly fails to address is the plot, specifically with regards to wrapping it up. Instead, the show leaves open massive questions, never explains what Lag Seeing's doppelganger is doing let alone what the heck he actually is, and it teases us by introducing an important new character in the last couple of minutes of the final episode. Yes, it is a prequel, so it assumes that viewers will have either read or will read the Manga, but that doesn't help me now, does it.

It is a very nice looking series and quite easy on the eyes, with every character (male and female) drawn in a semi-distinctive realistic style. The animation is notably good for a weekly airing show; the show obviously had an appreciable budget and a production team who knew how to make the best use of it. The monsters weren't fabulous or innovatively designed but they served their purpose, and I did appreciate the military hardware. As for the backgrounds, you can sort of tell while watching that some had been based on real locations, which allowed for some non-standard camera shots. It is the sort of thing I would expect to see in a movie or Shinkai OVA, not an action/drama show.

Ah yes, the action and drama. The violence struck a nice balance between being graphic and keeping off-screen. Basically, you got all kinds of amputations and stabbings and whatnot, but not everything was shown (a lot was though). Off-screen violence is easier to animate, and can actually be a more effective storytelling device if done right. The drama was interesting, as we knew where this was all heading, and Kagura and Yomi's relationship was convincing. But I think a bit too much was made out of the "not wanting to kill" angle that Kagura and another character shared. It made me annoyed with both of them, and unlike say Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion they were trained as warriors practically from birth. Hesitation to kill is one thing, and is actually expected at first, but the director drew it out a bit too much. Unlike Vash in Trigun, who had a philosophy and stuck with it through rain or shine, the two characters here had no moral arguments at all, let alone convincing ones. They just didn't want to kill human-looking apparitions (and of course one apparition in particular), even though they had no compunction in killing all manner of creatures.

I can't believe I have gone this far without mentioning the first episode. I had heard it was infamous, even notorious, but luckily I didn't know in what way. Curiosity got the better of me and I checked it out; it is actually on YouTube courtesy of FUNimation. I quickly forgot about the controversy until . . . well, I really can't say. You'll know it when you see it. I'll tell you what though, you'll either be so angry that you will drop the series or be so baffled and intrigued that you will want to watch the next episode straight away. Actually, now is a good time as any to mention that this was a very easy Anime to watch. I don't know why, but it wasn't because the story or character drama was engrossing or anything like that. I just found it easy to start the next episode, and I never found myself looking at the clock hoping that the episode would end. I found it odd, but in a good way.

Ga-Rei-Zero is a very solid and well-polished Anime, and if you can stand the moderate violence I do recommend it. Should you have previously watched Elfen Lied or Gantz then this will be a stroll in the park by comparison. I cannot justify giving it a rating of Excellent but it almost gets there, and I wholeheartedly give it the respectable rating of Very Good.
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Rukiia



Joined: 30 Aug 2010
Posts: 1768
Location: British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 6:17 pm Reply with quote
So I burned through a few series since my last post on this thread. I managed to watch the first Clannad series in a week and Kino's Journey in three days. My thoughts on these two series:

Clannad - It was so frigging cute and I adored the animation. I had the Dango Daikazoku song stuck in my head the entire time I watching this series, yet I didn't mind considering the song is also really cute. I heard that After Story is really sad so I am holding off on watching it since I have a feeling that its going to turn on my water works (and I tend to watch Anime on my bus ride to work so I don't really want to be seen bawling my eyes out in front of complete strangers Anime hyper). In closing, Key has still not disappointed me yet and I gave this series an Excellent rating.

Kino's Journey - I really liked this series. I enjoyed the steampunk theme it had and the stories it told. I found this series to be eerily beautiful and enchanting to watch. The ending was kinda abrupt but I heard that it has two movies (a prequel and I am guessing the second is a sequel). Too bad those movies aren't licensed as I would love to have seen more of this wonderful series. I also gave an Excellent rating to this series.


Moving on to my current watches:

Blue Exorcist - Waiting for episode 12 to come out. I was so pleased to hear Aniplex USA had picked this series up. Will definitely be buying it, along with Madoka, when its available.

Deadman Wonderland - Going to watch episode 12 tonight which apparently is the last episode of this series. I really hope they'll give it another season as there is no way that the last episode will wrap it all up. There is still alot to tell on this great series. I was also very pleased about FUNimation picking this up and will also be buying it for my collection.

Gosick - I seemed to have stalled on this series.

Kaleido Star - I had a craving to watch something perky and shojo themed, after watching Kino's Journey, and this has hit the spot. I definitely got that Sailor Moon vibe when watching it (probably because of it having the same director) and it gave me a nostalgic feeling. I also love how it has a seal mascot in the series (seals are my favorite animal). I am really liking this series and will most likely finish this off pretty quick.

One Piece - I decide to say "screw it" and went with watching the fansubs (I will watch the simulcasts on FUNi's page when I have caught up to where they started it). I will still buy the DVDs if FUNi gets more and once I have caught up I can once again kiss fansubs goodbye. Currently on episode 261.
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cuckundu



Joined: 05 Oct 2010
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:01 pm Reply with quote
I'm currently following Hen Zemi and The World God Only Knows II as they're posted online. Both are fantastic and I would readily recommend them to anyone. Unless you're averse to sexual humor, then just stay far away from Hen Zemi.

Yesterday I marathon'd School Days, and then watched the first three episodes of Strawberry Panic to try and erase it from my mind. I realize there are people who enjoyed it, and I respect y'all's opinions, but I simply don't understand it - the only part of the series I enjoyed at all was Setsuna. Other than her, I could not find anything entertaining or enjoyable about it...

Strawberry Panic, although somewhat useful in scrubbing School Days away, is rather strange and seems a little overly shoujo-esque so far. I've heard good things about it, though, so I won't give up just yet.
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pandora_warhol



Joined: 02 Jul 2011
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 6:54 pm Reply with quote
I'm very knew at anime watching and everything else since I've become a fan of it very recently.

Currently I'm watching 07-Ghost and just finished The Familiar of Zero and going to the second part The Familiar of Zero: The Rider of the Twin Moons

I'm still tapping in the dark not knowing what type of anime do I like the most since I love all of them I've watched so far.
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Sentire
Pirate KingPirate King


Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 744

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:13 pm Reply with quote
pandora_warhol wrote:
I'm very knew at anime watching and everything else since I've become a fan of it very recently.

Currently I'm watching 07-Ghost and just finished The Familiar of Zero and going to the second part The Familiar of Zero: The Rider of the Twin Moons

I'm still tapping in the dark not knowing what type of anime do I like the most since I love all of them I've watched so far.

Out of curiosity, was there a particular series that you saw that drew you into becoming an anime fan? Since it sounds like you are fairly new, this site is a great tool for recommendations - be sure to check out the encyclopedia as well. You might want to check out the site myanimelist.net too. I find both sites to be very useful for various reasons.

*edited for grammar
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wandering-dreamer



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
Posts: 1715

PostPosted: Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:23 pm Reply with quote
Got a bunch of stuff I'm finishing up now but tonight I finally got my brother to sit down and watching the first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood with me. We both saw the original show three or four years ago and we both thought the ending/movie was weird (I had read the manga, he still hasn't) but I noticed the other day that he was rewatching the first few episodes on his ipod and decided it was high time to have him watch the new version and see all the awesome characters who didn't make it into the first series.

Also a question, after Mike Toole's column this week I noticed that Ghost in the Shell is streaming on Netflix and I was wondering if I should watch the original film or the 2.0 version that came out more recently? I remember hearing some people complaining about how they didn't like the changes made to the film so I was wondering if I really need to see one version over the other.
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errinundra
Enjoying the time of EVEEnjoying the time of EVE


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 2714
Location: Melbourne, Oz

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:11 am Reply with quote
Completed a bunch of series in the last week or so.

Sasameki Koto (re-watch). This yuri anime has a remarkable first episode that isn't much of a guide to the rest of the series. If that episode were an OAV on its own I would rate it as excellent and be tempted to give it a masterpiece ranking. The writing and structure are perfect gems - every moment adds something to the overall story. The characters, especially the lead Sumika Murasame, are nuanced with each gesture and word meaningful, be it the movement of fingers as Sumika and Kazama hold hands, or the sudden intake of breath by Kazama when a teardrop slides down Sumika's cheek, or the trembling hands of a love-smitten student. Sure, it's corny but it's very well done. Standing above all this (literally and figuratively) is Sumika, one of my all-time favourite anime characters. Intelligent, capable and genuine but not above behaving quite badly towards her best friends and / or tying herself in knots over how to express her love, she is a multi-faceted, sympathetic creation.

Then everything changes. In the second episode, the already basic animation retards even further and subtlety is replaced by face faults, deformation and shouting. Nuanced writing gives way to absurdity and cheap laughs. The worst part of it is that it diminishes the carefully wrought intimacy of the first episode. It's not all bad. Things improve enormously when the tomboyish, mature Tomoe is properly introduced into the series. She adds an impartial stance for us to view Sumika's and Kazama's delusions while nudging them ever so gently together. She is also the only character to ever outwit or out-perform Sumika at sport, thus making the latter even more sympathetic.

The creative team may have realised that they got it wrong because in the latter part of the series, they cut right back on the annoying bodily distortions and the writing becoming more sensitive even if it doesn't to return to the levels of the first episode. Disappointingly, the final episode doesn't properly resolve the romantic tension between Sumika and Kazama, but that isn't altogether surprising. The show is a tease, like the manga it comes from. (It only covers the first 13 chapters of the manga and it takes until chapter 37 for Kazama to admit she loves Sumika.) Rating: I keep changing my mind on this one between good and very good.

***

Durarara!! There's no getting around it. I can't discuss this show without reference to its spiritual sibling, Baccano!. I rate both series as excellent but each displays their own eccentric strengths and weaknesses.

First up, Durarara!! has, for me, far more "wow" moments where I'm gobsmacked by what's taking place on the screen. The supreme moment, noted by many people, is when Mikado summons help from the "Dollars" in the centre of the Ikebukuro via his mobile phone. The result is astonishing, one of the all-time great moments in anime. These moments have a power, poignancy and, often, bitter irony, that is rarely matched in Baccano!

It also has more interesting characters. Only Miria and Isaac can match the best of the Durarara mob and it's notable that they make a couple of cameos. The crucial difference is that the violent characters of Baccano!, such as the Ladd Russo, Claire Stanfield, the Gandors and the Genoards are repellent without being particularly entertaining, while their Durarara!! counterparts, with some exceptions, are either genuinely likeable (Celty and Shizuo) or, in Izaya Orihara's case, deliciously repugnant. Whereas I didn't give a flying fig what happened to Ladd Russo or Claire Stanfield, how I enjoyed Simon Brezhnev dishing out a black eye to Izaya and how I wished he'd been given an immortal elixir and concrete shoes, a la Dallas Genoard.

Celty Sturluson is the premium character of the series. What a wonderful creation she is! The most human, most normal character in the entire show is a headless creature from myth. Her developing relationship with the ambiguous Shinra is one of the highlights, though I keep having these creepy thoughts of the two having sex together. A headless woman in bed - feminists would have a field day with that one. Perhaps Celty really is the ideal woman for the average man? Sexy body, no brains. That black ooze is a worry, though.

What Durarara!! lacks is the crazy, unstoppable forward momentum of Baccano! It falters in the slasher arc and, as the more eccentric characters - especially Celty - take backseat roles, the show must rely on the three central student characters, Mikado, Masaomi and Anri. While their story is compelling, they don't have the eccentricities of the others and, well, they're juveniles and, thus, no match for the best adult characters of the two series.

I would add that AU$135 for the set is a tad on the expensive side. Thank goodness for Crunchyroll.

***

Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit - re-watch, this time the dubbed version. I have a couple of minor issues with the dub. I've mentioned this elsewhere and it isn't criticism of American accents, but those accents are foreign to me so it is always weird to watch an Asian story where the speakers have an American twang. It would be the same effect for Americans if the dubs were done with an Australian accent. It draws attention to itself at the expense of the voice acting. Speaking of which, this dub suffers from an all too-common problem where the dialogue is nothing but a set of declarative statements with heavy emphasis on one or two syllables in each sentence. It lacks subtlety and too often misses the tone of the situation. Japanese voice acting is much more sophisticated. I don't mean to overstate the shortcomings of the dub - in general the casting is very good.

Earlier in this thread, after my first watch of the series, I worried that the plot-heavy nature of Moribito may diminish the appeal of re-watches. Not so. It come across as fresh as it did the first time. Its many pleasures continued to reward me. Moribito shines in so many ways. The glow is not limited to the artwork. Every last character is sympathetic. We learn that even the assassins and the apparently cold-hearted Mikado himself are striving to do what they think they ought and what they think is best. Characters behave intelligently and choose those options that seem correct, despite the illusions they are operating under. There's something profoundly optimistic in this view of human nature that imbues every part of the anime.

The detail and the backgrounding are extraordinary without drawing attention to themselves. For instance, the displacement of the indigenous Yakoo culture by the comparatively modern Yogo is inevitable and poignant, but it isn't made into an ideological issue. The Yakoo even acknowledge the benefits of Yogoan culture. Conversely, the Yogo realise, almost too late, that they have much to learn from the older culture. It's a modern reality in our own world, pariticularly if you live in a multicultural ex-colonial country like Australia, Canada or the US. The dilemma of the Yogoan drought mirrors our own approach to global warming. In fact, to an Australian, where drought is a too often regular part of life, Moribito has tremendous resonance.

Balsa, the shining star of the series, loses nothing in the re-watch. None of the other characters can hold a candle to her, although Tanda has his own endearing qualities. So capable yet caught in a situation she can only partly comprehend, she can be wilfully wrong and often fails to grasp the motivation of other characters. For instance, she never gets a complete handle on why Jiguro sacrificed so much for her - probably because she refuses to acknowledge how remarkable she is, something Jiguro understood from the start. Her design is spot-on: beautiful without being fetish fodder; realistically muscular without any hint of Kawajiri-type grotesqueness.

A special mention to the fight scenes. Normally, they are not a significant attraction for me in anime. I absolutely relished them here, even if they are relatively infrequent. The animation is simply superb. Not only that, but I found I was turning the volume of my stereo system right up to enjoy the sound effects. Never has the clash of steel sounded so thrilling.

Moribito easily maintains its masterpiece rating. I would place it in my top four best ever anime.

***

If Moribito appeals to our best natures then When They Cry - Higurashi is plumbing the depths of our very worst. This is a tawdry, reprehensible series. I rate it as weak.

The most notable scenes are those displaying intense cruelty, for example the fingernail ripping machine or, from the same arc, where Shion repeatedly drives a knife blade into the arms of a pinnioned Sakato. The characteristic trope of this anime is sadistic violence presented for our entertainment without any mediating point of view and lacking any artistic justification. It even manages to turn the normal conventions of Sadism on their head. The general thesis of Marquis de Sade's worldview is that innocence invites, indeed deserves, cruelty because of its abnegation of agency. In his world, you are agent or you are victim. Agents are fully entitled to exploit the innocent in any way they see fit. Higurashi doesn't even have that level of sophistication. Innocence isn't trammelled by cruelty; rather, cuteness deliberately and inexplicably transforms into cruelty - simply for effect.

But, even as entertainment it fails dismally. The artwork and animation have to be the most uninspiringly prosaic drudge in just about any anime I have seen produced from the last five years or so (the beautiful first half of the OP excepted). That's not all. There are too many long stretches of everyday life in the village (particularly in the first half of the series) that are utterly devoid of any interest, let alone displaying even a modicum of menace. It's just boring characters doing boring things with boring artwork and boring animation.

The structure of the series doesn't help at all. Each short arc resets the story and the characters. From arc to arc the characters behave differently, according to the requirements fo the story. This results in a bunch of ciphers with no personality. They just say and do things that have no reference to an inner continuity. Accordingly I had zip sympathy for them; I didn't care a whit about their fates. Skewer them, slice them up, throw them in a pit. Who cares? Where there's no care, there's no horror. Well, that's not entirely true. There was the occasional moment where I wondered about my own response to their suffering, but it was only fleeting.

Surrender Artist wrote:
… By the way, I genuinely like Citizen Kane. It’s an impressive and intriguing masterpiece of cinema… Incidentally, Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men is one of my favorite films… On a side note, I really love the cinematic adaptation of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. It has a cast drawn from The Royal Shakespeare Company for crying out loud!… Unrelatedly, something that doesn’t suffer from such poor characterization is Casablanca… Another work from Japan that doesn’t suffer from these sorts of problems is Tokyo Story, which I recommend… Hey, you know what I saw the day before I started watching Dragonaut: The Resonance? Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams! No foolin’!… Oh, and… uh… F For Fake, Der Himmel Über Berlin, The Manchurian Candidate, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, Smoke, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, Metropolis, Brazil… ah, you get the point….


I like your taste in film. I have quite a few of these in my dvd collection and, if not, I might have other works by the same director. I wonder how those folks who thought Noir was slow would manage Wings of Desire (btw, in the commentary on the dvd the director, Wim Wenders, gives his imprimatur to the English title.)
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