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

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:45 pm Reply with quote
I somehow forgot that I had watched the first two episodes of Ga-Rei Zero along with my other samples. It's a little bit intriguing, but something that I can't quite place keeps my enthusiasm for it dampened. It might just be the oddly distorted first impression that the series makes with its unusual approach to its first episode. The central characters and conflict seem like they might be interesting, but the startling way that things are executed muffles interest in the characters. It's very striking and surprising, but it came at a cost. It's a very impressive-looking series. The character designs are satisfactory, if fairly ordinary, and the animation is very good, especially by television standards. I'm content to let my experience with the show end with two episodes, but I won't rule some day returning to it out.

wandering-dreamer wrote:
Funny enough, I just got the first dvd of Crest of Stars (Banner of Stars is the sequel) from my library's bookstore and I was please to discover that yes this series is right up my alley. I love politics in stories (and real life to be honest) and I've been on a sci-fi kick for a couple of months now so I love the combination. Plus, I've seen one or two people compare the show to Spice and Wolf, ie you can have an episode where the majority of it is spent between two characters talking to each other and it's not at all dull, and that really is a great comparison and I really like all the characters so far. So, now to track down the rest of the series...


I keep forgetting to finish Banner of the Stars. I bought the first two discs eight years ago and really liked them, but at the time, circumstances required long waits between purchases, so by the time I got around to considering buying the rest, a compilation had been released, so got stuck on buying the remaining single volumes or the compilation, the latter making the two volumes that I had redundant. By now I could get the remainder used for a song, but I keep forgetting it for some reason. That's a shame, of course, because it is a very good series. The basic scenario of the series is unusual and the Abh themselves are pretty intriguing. It's admittedly a bit dry, but I like that sometimes, especially in science fiction, very especially in science fiction that has thought about its rules and mechanics.

errinundra wrote:
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.)


Well, the list was conspicuously biased in favor of critical respectability, but it was genuine one broader one wouldn't've been much different. It's a side effect of having been raised by a father who subscribes to Film Comment, although I'm properly a cinephile myself. I just sometimes have an urge to seek interesitng films out.

If Wings of Desire is all right with Wim Wenders, then it's all right with me. I know just a pittance of German, so the mismatch pestered me from the moment I'd noticed it. I've never heard the commentary, having only rented the film once a few years ago after my high school German teacher made a well-intentioned, but sorely unappreciated attempt to show it, and Lola Rennt to our class (I loved it... others... did not). I really should just buy a copy; it really is a favorite of mine. I mean, it has Bruno Ganz, Peter Falk, Nick Cave, striking use of alternating monochrome with color (I have a thing for black and white) and a good story told in a distinctive manner at an entrancing pace. I'm entirely for all of that. The only thing that might have raised it further would have been if Tom Waits had been somehow involved.

Oh, and you really are stoking my interest in Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit. Once I get my Blu-ray conundrum sorted out...


Last edited by Surrender Artist on Mon Aug 01, 2011 6:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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Spastic Minnow
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 02 May 2006
Posts: 2991
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:11 pm Reply with quote
Still making my progress through Detective Conan and I just have make mention one of the things that always bothers me with the show and Gosho Aoyama's stories. The man is an absolute master of coming up with the tricks of a case, brilliant clues and detailed plots that need acquired knowledge and supreme reasoning to understand.... but damn is he bad with motives.

People murder for the stupidest reasons. The episodes I just watched featured the Fūrinkazan case, it had impossible cases, tricky murders and all themed after a obscure bit of warrior philosophy... but the motive... five people killed and a sixth attempted for the stupidest reasons... spoiler[The first and attempted sixth victims were both horseback archers who, once a year, participated in a demonstration of their skill at an annual rural festival. The murderer was a head of a gambling ring who wanted to kill them because they were both too good and always hit bulls-eyes ten out of ten times.... ruining the betting on how many targets would be hit... in this one event that happened once a year.... and the other four victims might possibly have had circumstantial evidence that the first murder was possibly a murder, not who did it, but that someone might have fired a gun... not that they were sure and due to circumstances they weren't likely to tell the police anyways.] the only worse motive I can think of was the Holmes fan who killed an author of minor piece of literary criticism because that person had a different viewpoint than he did.

And then there's the Master/Apprentice set-up. 9 out of 10 times if an aging master or young apprentice is murdered it's for the same reason. The master was taking credit for the work of the apprentice and either the master killed the apprentice because he was going to reveal the secret or more often the apprentice killed the master for being held back. It really makes you wonder if Aoyama has a guilty conscience or holds one hell of a grudge against someone he ghost-wrote for and stole his credit.

If he weren't afraid of being murdered by an apprentice, I'd think Aoyama should hire a guy to write him some original criminal motives.
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pandora_warhol



Joined: 02 Jul 2011
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:09 pm Reply with quote
Sentire wrote:

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


Yeah, this is an awesome site I agree. Thank you for the info.

Well I stumbled upon an anime called Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne witch I used to adore when I was younger and watched in German and didn't understand a word but still loved it. So I found the series on the internet and watched it. Then I tried to find animes similar to that one and just got kinda drawn into the whole anime thing Smile

How about you?
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2011 7:26 pm Reply with quote
Finished Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini, rated it as Not Really Good.

So when did the Darker than Black franchise turn all Magical Girl on us? And more importantly, why? But seriously, it is actually quite sad when the overused and out-of-place transformation scene is one of the smaller problems with this show.

Let's see. There's the fact that this came out before the OVAs and yet is unintelligible without them. There is the extremely rushed and confusing ending that drops all of the plot bombshells in the last couple of episodes, most of which made no sense anyway. What was going on was not even explained. Saving all the powder for the ending meant that the rest of the show was still confusing (because we got so little information) and felt stretched, as nothing much happened. There really should not be filler in a one-cour show, and yet the Sapporo arc just dragged bloody on and on.

Except for Suo who had a sympathetic backstory and some spunk, the characters weren't all that great either. Hei was a complete douche, Mao was useless, July was naturally a bore, Kirihara never accomplished much, and Yin was suddenly the most important person ever. The goal(s) of Shion and Madame Oreille was never explained, and how they (the goals) related to the end-of-the-world prophecy I have absolutely no idea.

Sigh. I knew this would be disappointing, but it is one thing to know and quite another to actually experience it first hand. This is a generally crap show that should be avoided, and while I do not regret watching it I definitely have no desire to watch the OVAs. I should not have to watch a prequel made over a year after the series just to ease my complete bafflement by what went on in said series. I just shouldn't.
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Aura Ichadora



Joined: 25 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:16 am Reply with quote
Currently watching:

Blood-C - I've been looking forward to this since it was announced. I haven't seen the other Blood series; the fact that it's being done by CLAMP sold me enough to give it a watch.

For the first episode, I was torn between "interesting" and "...I think I've seen this before". There's obvious nods to CLAMP's other works, particularly xxxHolic with a few of the characters, but at the same time it's able to stand out as a different work from what they've done before. It seemed to go by a little slow until the last 1/3 of the show, when we finally got some action in, but I figured it would be due to introducing the cast and starting on some character development. Hopefully it'll start pushing me closer to "interesting" the more I watch it.

Usagi Drop - I think I'm lucky right now that I haven't read the manga, based on what I've read. Hopefully the series won't disturb me, since the first episode was really cute. I'll give it a shot for a few more episodes, but again...hopefully it won't turn out the way I read.

Princess Jellyfish - Finally started to watch it. I'm in two episodes in, and enjoying the animation and storyline. Hopefully it'll keep up throughout the rest of the series, but if these first two episodes are indication, I'll definitely be pleased.
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The King of Harts



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

PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:44 pm Reply with quote
I just watched a hidden gem called Moshidora. I know it just came out last season, but it's not talked about and it only has 200 views here in the Encyclopedia, so I think that constitutes as "hidden". It's starts out pretty slow and talky (bust still quite good), but once the team gets motivated and Minawa starts implementing her "management" skills, it becomes a gripping show to watch with lots of great drama and character interactions.

It certainly comes out of right (yuk yuk) because I honestly did not think I'd enjoy it as much as I did. I enjoyed watching the team grow and seeing their hard work actually pay off, which I think is unique to sports anime because they tend to have the best bounce back stories (mostly because super powers aren't involved). Also seeing Minawa work so hard to get the team to Nationals felt kind of, I don't know, special, particularly because her own, rough history with baseball.

And even though the ending was predictable, it still affected me. I've come accept that I've seen enough anime to roughly guess how a show will end within the first 3-4 episodes, so now I just enjoy the ride there. Like Yuki would say, the process is more important than the results.

So yes, Moshidora, great show, but it'll probably get lost in the pages of time.
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Dorcas_Aurelia
Baka RangerBaka Ranger


Joined: 23 Jul 2006
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Location: Philly

PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:45 pm Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:
Finished Darker than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini, rated it as Not Really Good.

...

Let's see. There's the fact that this came out before the OVAs and yet is unintelligible without them. There is the extremely rushed and confusing ending that drops all of the plot bombshells in the last couple of episodes, most of which made no sense anyway. What was going on was not even explained. ...


Judging by your list, you haven't watched the OVA yet. Yeah, it doesn't really explain anything either. Or nothing more than the explanation Gemini gave towards the end revealed, anyway. There are a few universe building segments spoiler[(like that contractors can have non-contractor babies)], there is still precious little explanation as for why what happened to Yin occurred.
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Pantha



Joined: 27 Oct 2005
Posts: 147

PostPosted: Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:22 pm Reply with quote
Hell Girl
I’ve watched many a magical girl. I watched my fair share of teeny-bopper shounen stories. Despite this, though, Hell Girl is the single most repetitive anime I’ve ever seen. I have an idea that the seiyuu that voiced Emna Ai only had to show up for one day to record her lines. She says the exact same shit in every episode; I had her little spill memorized. Sometimes episodic stories can work (watch Mushi-shi for more information), but this isn’t one of those times. I think the story would have worked better in episodic mini-arcs (ala Ghost Hunt). I guess this show was trying to be an animated Aesop but it didn’t work because these kids are sending people to Hell for the dumbest reasons. Talk about having a distorted reality. It made my head spin how fast these people were pulling that red string. More than half the time the people doing the cursing were just as bad as the people they were trying to get revenge on. …which was the point, but so what? If I cared about any of the recycled characters (or even the main ones), perhaps I would feel differently. Some episodes were good, but in the end, once you seen one you seen them all. At least I knocked off another show in my collection backlog. Yay!

Deadman Wonderland
I thought this show was going to be something awesome like Rainbow, but it’s more in the spirit of something like Gantz or Elfen Lied. Why worry about little things like plot or character development when a severed head or blood-splattered corpse would suffice? When the show takes a break (a teeny-weeny break) from being over-the-top, it’s not half-bad. It takes a while to get there, though. The show doesn’t start getting good until spoiler[that underground rebel group plots to escape the prison. ] Shiro is annoying, as to be expected. I hate characters like her. Ganta (Renton dyed his hair black!) needs to be de-Shinjified. Then again, if I was his age and in that situation, I probably wouldn’t do much better. But does he have to whine that much? And he's incredibly stupid. spoiler[You mean to tell me that none of the characters realized that chip was a bomb after it, you know, exploded seconds after Shiro threw it?] All the characters have lost their marbles (and they aint looking for them either), but there was one I liked. I already forgot his name (and I just finished this show about two hours ago)…wait…I think it was Senji. Crow. Yup, that was it. With that “read the manga” ending, Deadman Wonderland is obviously set for another season. I may even watch that season, but I don’t know if I’ll buy the DVDs when they are released by Funimation.

For kicks, I decided to look through my collection and watch something that is the total opposite of Deadman Wonderland. My eyes fell on Fruits Basket, but I’m re-watching Fushigi Yuugi instead. It’s been years since I’ve seen this…
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:03 pm Reply with quote
Just dropped Beelzebub, rated it as Good.

Twenty-four episodes.

It's obvious that the show will now turn (as in, the next episode onwards) into a generic high-school battle series, so I'm getting out while it is still enjoyable. I mean, it's been fun so far, but there's only one way to go and that's down. The repetitive jokes are not going to stay funny for much longer, and there was never really much of a plot to begin with (barring the initial premise). I can only watch Baby Beel shock Oga for so many times before it kind of loses its lustre. At first it is hilarious, then it is like comfort food (as in "hah ha, they're using that joke again"), then it gets stale. I want to leave while the food is still fresh and the memories are still positive.

In most Anime, the characters pretty much make or break a show, and the cast of Beelzebub was pretty good. Jerk-with-a-heart-of-gold Oga was always good fun to watch. Interestingly, he is voiced by the same guy who did Kamina from TTGL, a character whom I loath. It goes to show that there is a time and place for BIG MANLY SPEECHES, i.e. a comedy, not a Mecha show. Anyway, Furuichi made a fine butt-monkey, and Baby Beel was played to perfection as a weak, immature but needy brat. And of course, I can't forget the ladies. I really liked Hilda and Aoi, both for their personalities and their really attractive character designs. Honestly, Shounen series have given us quite a number of strong, capable, fearsome - oh, and of course, sexy - female leads, a fact which often gets overlooked.

Beelzebub has a great premise; delinquent has to raise demon lord baby. But by following the Shounen formula of "drag everything out way longer than what it should have been", it does threaten to hurt itself. I just want to be clear that as of episode twenty-four the show is very much still watchable, But before the plane hits turbulence, runs out of fuel and crashes into a mountainside I want to bail out now while the going is good.
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errinundra
Enjoying the time of EVEEnjoying the time of EVE


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:55 am Reply with quote
House of Five Leaves

I becoming something of a fan of noitanimA productions. This is the second Siren Visual release I've purchased (the other being Tatami Galaxy) and both have become cherished additions to my collection. (Any chance of another noitaminA favourite, Nodame Cantabile joining the list, SV?) One of the most interesting shows in the current winter season (yes, winter - you northerners have your seasons arse-about) - Bunny Drop - is another noitaminA effort.

Getting back to House of Five Leaves, this is precisely the sort of series that makes me a fan of anime - it's strange, it's surprising, it's beautiful to look at, it's full of wit yet isn't comedy and, above all, it has memorable adult characters, all heavily burdened with regrets and desires, who propel a story full of incident and emotion, bitterness and irony. They're all villains, cowards and losers, and I loved each and every one of them.

Combining grotesquerie and beauty, the artwork happily departs from anime conventions and nicely evokes the Edo period. Because it so suggests that era, and because it captures a beauty amidst the ugliness, I think it surpasses the visual style of its noitaminA contemporary Tatami Galaxy.

It didn't hurt that each episode started with the beguiling song, Sign of Love, that charmed me totally. It begins with the following lyric:

Miwatasenai chizu ga aru
Tohou ni kureru hodo hiroku
Shiru koto akiramesou ni naru


When it gets to the bolded section the female singer's voice drops in pitch and gives me goosebumps in the process. Beautiful stuff.

(BTW, the lyrics translate as: There's a map so big it cannot be seen at once, so vast we lose our bearings, and nearly give up on what we know...)

Rating: masterpiece. It would make it into my top ten all time favourites.

Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~

Just as Sign of Love sets the tone for House of Five Leaves, so the OP of the latest Girls with Guns thriller from Koichi Mashimo and Bee Train likewise gives an indication of what's ahead. Karma has this opening line, according to the official sub:

Karma. I keep falling through an endless repetition of the same thing...

There's a fansub that's more lyrical.

Karma. I've fallen into an endless spiral of repetition... (Nandomo onajikotono kurikaeshino nakawo ochiteitteha)

Mashimo is notable for his droll sense of humour, often delivered with only the slightest hint that he's pulling your leg. Thus, I'm sure he is is fully aware that this line portends everything the viewer fears it might. That's not to say this isn't a good series, but it certainly covers some familiar territory.

Consider the following: traumatised youngsters are brainwashed and trained to become assassins (Gunslinger Girl, anyone?), sexually preyed upon by their handlers (Kite), and suffer from amnesia (Ein / Eren even looks like Kirika from Noir, although sadly beautiful in a way Kirika never manages). There's a musical fobwatch that becomes a plot device (true! I kid you not!) and the principal girl-with-a-gun rival, the mature Drei / Cal, is a blonde version of Alphard from Phantom's near contemporary, Canaan.

The latter connection isn't so surprising when you use the marvellous ANN comparison tool for the two productions. The 26 episode Phantom aired from 2 April to 24 September 2009 while the shorter Canaan aired from 4 July to 26 September. The ANN comparo reveals that no fewer than 24 staff members worked on both productions. The list contains key animators, finishers, colourists, special effects artists, composer, producers, animation director, and others. As well, two seiyuu had major roles in each anime. It's interesting to note that the founder of PA Works (who did the anime production for Canaan) is a former Bee Train staffer. (As I've said before, anime eats itself.) Thankfully, Phantom avoids the teenage humour of Caanan.

Having said all that, I do believe that Phantom is a significant improvement over the two previous Bee Train Girls with Guns efforts, Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja, partly because of the higher production values, but chiefly because it returns to the basics that made Noir so good - memorable characters living in an abyss and desparately trying to redeem themselves. Reiji / Zwei and Eren / Ein get Phantom off to a great start and the series is at its best when it's the two of them battling against Inferno or Guiseppe, the Scythe Master (Giuseppe = Giuse = Jose, get it?). The interactions between Reiji and the young Cal are also strong and memorable, and laced with an innocent sexuality. When Cal hops into bed with Reiji and they lie blissfully back to back, it's a sweet moment, all the more so when considered in the light of subsequent events. Disappointingly, Cal's later transformation into a crazy gun girl is unconvincing. She is but one example of abrupt changes in tone that spoil the flow of the series. Similarly, how many times can characters come back from the seeming dead? It got to the point that I stopped believing that any character was truly dead.

Despite my apparent cynicism I rate this as very good.

There's a bit of a sad story for me with this series. I originally "won" the set in an ANN giveaway back in February. In March I received a message from ANN saying it had been returned undelivered. I re-sent my address but the DVDs haven't turned up to this day. Last week I gave up and bought it. Thanks for trying, guys. It'll probably turn up in the mail now. Sad
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Surrender Artist
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:15 pm Reply with quote
Let me first dispose of Gun Frontier, which disappointed me. I had expected, from the word Frontier in its title and Leiji Matsumoto designs, it to be some odd hybrid of western and space opera, but it is in fact a pure western. That didn’t bother me since a Leiji Matsumoto western strikes me as a fine idea on its own. I also expected after the first episode that it would be a chiefly episodic series. Instead, it has a fairly strong overall story, which I consider to be a good thing. It didn’t, however, quite work out that, well.

The hero of Gun Frontier isn’t Franklin Harlock Jr., as I had expected, but instead his short, round-faced, which is to say Japanese, bespectacled companion Tochiro. This was a nice surprise since a character with feelings of physical inadequacy and alienation is usually more interesting than the tall, handsome scion of the dominant social group. Tochiro proves quite likeable being so it possible and, more importantly, has an emotionally intense side that serves the dramatic points of the series well. He’s also portrayed as an ostensibly benign lecher.

Contra Tochiro, Harlock and the mysterious Sinunora aren’t very interesting characters. Harlock gets his basic characterization in the first episode as a slightly flippant, very badass gunslinger who has a lively rapport with Tochiro, and then doesn’t really change for twelve episodes. He’s a pretty aimless character who has no direction of his own in the series. Sinunora is given more attention, beginning as implacably cool, then being given a bluntly sexual side in the second episode and even some internal conflict as the series goes on, but the effort to deepen her character seems to peter off pronouncedly as the series trots on. While she is pursuing her own agenda, she too often ends up needing to be saved, although she at least bears these incidents cool-headedly rather than just being a simpering damsel-in-distress, or acting largely in the service of Tochiro’s story. She does sometimes acquit herself ably in gunplay at one point she strangles a captor between her legs, but just isn’t as interesting and cool as she could be. She’s also Tochiro’s love interest, but their relationship seems to emerge almost arbitrarily; it never quite felt that she was falling in love with Tochiro because of something within her rather than the dictates of the story.

The story is a very familiar seeming, but classic kind of tale about Tochiro’s quest to find his ‘tribe’, a group of persecuted Japanese immigrants who were massacred and scattered at a town called Samurai Creek, especially his sister, Shizuku, which puts him at odds with a shadowy organization that wants to control the development and use of technology. It’s a pretty suitable story for a western and flows pretty nicely, with a good complement of emotionally intense highs and lighter-hearted lulls, such as the town that forbids those shorter than 5’ 4” from entering it. It is also, unfortunately, an incomplete story. It’s quite evident that this was meant as either a longer series or as an enticement to read the manga, because a scene in the penultimate episode suggests a further layer of mystery surrounding Sinunora’s nature and purpose and the ending hardly concludes the tale while seemingly preparing the conflict of the rest of the story.

I don’t know that there’s much in most cases to declare about the animation. It’s mostly of typical quality for a television series; there are a few cheats and tricks here and there, but few egregious failures of artistry. The character designs, however, were a mix of acceptable and dreadful. The leads and important supporting characters have suitable designs. Harlock looks like a traditional western hero and Tochiro is very stylized, but consistent and distinctive. Sinunora and almost all of other female characters are drawn like tall, curvy weeping willows, very much in Leiji Matsumoto’s style, which I admit to quite liking. Many of the incidental and even some more prominent supporting characters, however, are real messes. Many of them are just so ugly and sloppy-looking that I was happy to see them vanish from the screen. I had no trouble with the idiosyncratic designs of some of the characters in 009-1, but the ambulatory sacks of potatoes wrapped in skin that I presume they took from humans whom they killed were harder to take. I admit to be a poor judge of animation quality, but in this case I some characters were so loosely drawn that I wasn’t sure that there was a even a model for them to be off!

My opinion must seem by now ambivalent; I’ve praised Tochiro and looked approvingly upon the story, but been apathetic toward the other character and some of the art. So it remains for me to reveal why I ultimately come away not liking Gun Frontier. It’s a slightly awkward reason, but I persisted strongly through the whole series, so I might as well reveal it.

Gun Frontier treats its female characters pretty lousily. It isn’t a matter of how active or effective they are, but the way that they are treated. I realize that a series set in the west couldn’t realistically have progressive sensibilities about gender, but the attitude of Gun Frontier was almost preposterously regressive and damned distasteful to me. Seldom did an episode pass without a woman being degraded and debased. Sinunora must have been magically immune from being hung whilst clothed, or at least so one might think from the fact that on at least two occasions she was stripped bare while in a noose. Others could found suspended nude from a tree, being involuntarily exposed or being threatened with rape. Then there was the one who was raped and so sacrificed herself to save Tochiro and Harlock so the disgrace of it made her life not worth living anyway. Indeed, a number of women found their purpose and greatest utility in sacrificing themselves for the male leads. Sinunora claims that she doesn’t mind the degradation. Is this really a psychologically sound, mature woman talking or is it a writer trying to rationalize something unsavory? Perhaps the implication of some past of sexual abuse was meant, but if it was, it’s invisibly subtleI know that the period would certainly entail rather Neanderthal notions about how to treat women, but the series seldom seemed to suggest that it disapproved, saving its moral for a basically agreeable, if sometimes confused and faintly nationalistic, decrying of racism against the Japanese. When blended with the endless exaltations of, “being a man,” in the dramatic closing narrations of every episode, I was left with a lip curled in disgust and unpleasant taste in my mouth. Perhaps the writers thought that there was something wrong with the way they used their female characters, but couldn’t quite figure out how to convey that or thought it too self-evident to need comment. I suppose that I can’t know, but as it was presented, it was pretty unpleasant and not something that I like seeing.

(Would you believe that despite that, I’m still curious about RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne? I ain’t right.)

Then nothing happened for a week, then I went crazy and watched a several things in quick succession.

Firstly, I walked away confused and disappointed from Kite Liberator. I knew that it probably wouldn’t be as good as what came before it. I even thought that it might be very disappointing, but I underestimated just how frustrating it would be.

I didn’t mind that Sawa wasn’t the protagonist. As interesting as I found her to be, I wasn’t sure if there were many other places to take her character, not that I’d’ve minded Yasuomi Umetsu trying. What I minded was that our new protagonist just isn’t given the treatment that she deserves. Kite Liberator is strangely timid and distracted about its ostensible principal player. By the end, I had no idea of what torment or even had driven Monaka to become an assassin and barely any sense of what she was like. So far as I can remember, she had an implausible appetite for ice cream and was at least moderately spunky. She is a little cool sometimes and could have been really cool. What else? I don’t know. We never get to go very deep.

The distraction was the worst part. Instead of a tight, piercing focus upon a few characters in a minimalist story, in Kite Liberator the story flinches away to look at something stupid almost every time it starts to look at anybody closely. Nearly half of Kite Liberator is dedicated to some bizarre story about Monaka’s father being an astronaut who turns into a bone monster after eating special space food and being exposed to solar radiation.

I am not making this up.

I suppose that I might be prejudiced against this part of the story by the fact that I can’t help but view this OVA through the lens of Kite. Can you blame me? I mean, Kite is in the damned title. See: Kite Liberator, it’s right there. Kite. Yet, it’s little like its dark, moody and provocative predecessor. Kite drew me in with the quiet torment of its characters and the bleak atmosphere that they lived in, the female assassin part was just a cool hook. Sure it was one of my favorite hooks, but it’s not enough on its own. There’s a glimpse of something inside of Monaka now and again, but not much more than that.

And there are bone monsters. Stupid, stupid bone monsters. This is clearly Yasuomi Umetsu with a tongue in his cheek, which was really fun in the lighthearted, freewheeling Mezzo DSA, but it isn’t any fun for me here in something billed as a successor to Kite, unless that tongue is being pulled through his cheek by a pissed off Sawa in some horrific means of murder, I want it the Hell out of there!

Kite Liberator is also visually inferior to Kite. I suspect that I might be idiosyncratic in missing cel animation and thinking that it allowed for a stronger sense of atmosphere then the chintzy brightness and perfection of digital animation, but I doubt that many would contest that Kite Liberator is less impressive to see than its elder sister. The character designs, except for the damned Bone Monsters, are distinctive and pleasing to the eye, but the animation itself is unimpressive. There aren’t any terrible failings of quality that I could detect, although I’m bad at detecting such things, but the choreography and animation of the fights is mostly dull, a bit choppy and sometimes stiff. Every action scene in Kite stood out to me, be it the sheer excess of the bathroom fight or the compact tension of the fight on the subway car, but I can’t remember much about the fight scenes in Kite Liberator. I know that one or two involved Bone Monsters.

Oh, whatever. I don’t want to write about this anymore. Here’s all you need to know: Bone Monsters are dumb and will usually ruin things. Films, plays, roleplaying games, leukemia benefits; anything. I hate them even more than I hate Illinois Nazis. There are Bone Monsters in Kite Liberator, so, I suppose, just stay away from Kite Liberator.

Mercifully, after Kite BONE MONSTERS ARE YOU KIDDING ME GODDAMNED BONE MONSTERS?!? I watched Serial Experiments Lain, which made me feel better. It also made me feel confused, but better. I really don’t know what to think of it, but after it, I felt as though I had seen something at least a little bit special.

I don’t have much that I feel comfortable writing about Serial Experiments Lain. It feels like the kind of show that warrants comment at length, but somehow, I just don’t feel equal to the task. I think that watching it all in one continuous gulp was a mistake; it’s a little too dense and idiosyncratic for that. I certainly want to watch it again in smaller installments.

I am really not sure what to think of the ostensible philosophical content. I have an ambivalent opinion of using philosophy and such in anime. I think that it can add a level of intellectual entertainment that some people, I more or less among them, can really enjoy, but I also think that such elements must remain largely superficial, simply because the centuries and even millennia of thought that underlies them cannot be done justice without decaying into a tedious philosophical lecture. I have no problem with philosophical lectures, but they aren’t entertaining, at least not in the way that a cartoon normally is. I’m not sure where Serial Experiments Lain falls on the continuüm of stimulating to tedious, but I think that it’s closer to the good end. The series seemed very much to be a psychological horror whose abstract concepts were used in service of that atmosphere to emphasize a sense of confusion and uncertainty. This series can be really surreal and strange in a way that I found very absorbing.

It helps that Lain herself is an endearing character. She’s quiet, well one of her is, and strange, but weirdly charming and its engaging to see her become a more confident and expressive character, though not a less odd one, as the series goes on. She has a pleasing, distinctive design too. I also liked the character of Alice, who was a nice counterpoint to Lain and became the emotional lynchpin of the series. The whole thing is helped a lot by the tight focus upon Lain herself. It doesn’t ignore the rest of the cast, but the audience’s attention is never diluted by a large ensemble, so there’s a chance to know Lain well and become very invested in her.

What ultimately probably seals my approval of Serial Experiments Lain is, as is so often the case, its atmosphere. It’s gently moving, moody, surreal and dream-like. A lot of my favorite things can be described to varying extents with some or all of those words. Serial Experiments Lain meets all three pretty strongly. The way that it fools around with reality and identity slips one out of a normal state of mind, all the while letting each element and character linger just enough more than usual to let them surround the viewer and sink in.

Yeah, so , I guess that I don’t really have anything substantial to declare about Serial Experiments Lain. So I’ll just finish with some insubstantial comments. Firstly, I loved the opening. It has a good song and a strong array of visuals to go along with it. It put the series in the rare class of shows whose openings I seldom skip (So far that class consist otherwise of Cowboy Bebop and Noir; Now and Then, Here and There too, if I count endings). Secondly, I also really liked the English cast. I’m not sure about the scripts and there were some seeming missteps, but it sounded mostly right to me and a few rôles were very well done. Bridget Hoffman (going by Ruby Marlowe) was able to hit the divergent, discordant notes required of Lain and I really liked Emily Brown as Alice. Her voice acting career seems to have been quite brief, which is a small shame as I think that she showed ample promise. It was also a nice treat to her the late Barry Stigler (going by Gil Starberry) as Lain’s ‘father’. He had a very cool, distinctly paternal voice. Thirdly, I was surprised that the technology never struck me as painfully anachronistic, as one might have expected for a show made before the turn of the century about technology. I think that this was helped by how oddly and impressionistically the series treat technology. Certainly the world is quite different from the world of Serial Experiments Lain, but it always has been.

Oddly enough, immediately after watching the dry and cerebral Serial Experiments Lain, I watched the goofy and simpleminded Project A-Ko. Life’s funny that way.

I love Project A-ko, but not quite so much for its merits as for its significance to me. Project A-k was my first anime, or rather the first time that I recognized anime. The first anime that I saw was probably something like Myterious Cities of Gold or Maya the Bee, which I had watched on Nickelodeon when I was very young, but had no particular idea of the origins. In the case of Project A-Ko, I knew it was something slightly different. I happened to be home ill from elementary school, so I couldn’t have been older than twelve, and lying on our old couch in just a shirt and underwear, watching television, as was traditional. I wandered to The Sci-Fi Channel and found myself watching a girl in a sailor suit tossing robots around. I had no idea what the Hell this was, but I was intrigued. The content warnings that aired at the advertising breaks helped too, being ever so enticing to a young boy. At some point later that day, the channel aired some advertisement or perhaps a short documentary about anime and that is where it all began. I started loyally watching their Saturday Anime block, even though they had only a few titles that rotated endlessly, and took to combing the paltry, but growing, anime video selection at the local Blockbuster, then went onward thence.

I don’t know if I can have an opinion about Project A-Ko. I hadn’t seen it in at least thirteen years and it has the mother of all nostalgic auras. I know it isn’t all copacetic, but I just can’t hold anything against it.

Oh, but it is a fun thing to watch. It’s intentionally quite light on plot and character, but at least it uses that lightness to move quickly from stunt to stunt, from action scene to action scene.

Also, there’s a short scene involving a horror film about Colonel Sanders.

I couldn’t really appreciate Project A-Ko as a comedy back when I first saw it since I couldn’t recognize the references. I know them better now, but they aren’t quite funny to me, aside perhaps from the alcoholic, gender-bent Captain Harlock imitation, but they help lighten the already feathery mood. What I really appreciate it as is a wild, spectacular action film. The people who made this had a pretty large supply of money and used it pretty well. Watching A-Ko run up a stairway of live missiles alone is worth the price of admission and the ridiculous fight with B-Ko in a sort of combat bikini was my favorite part the first time ‘round; a status that it retains.

I liked A-Ko. She’s not complex, but she’s a fun character and I love the kind of woman who can kick my ass, especially if she can literally kick it to the moon. B-Ko is amusing for how petty her obsession is. I hate C-Ko. I have always hated C-Ko. I’ve heard her described as an early example of moe. If this is true, then I have hated moe for as long as I’ve liked anime.

I watched the English dub, of course, even though that’s not really a great idea. I had to, you see, for the nostalgic thrill, but I can’t claim that it’s good. I didn’t notice it when I first watched it, but this time it was pretty apparent that this wasn’t produced by Americans. The grammar betrays the occasional British touch and several characters lose their battle to impose an American accent over their native one. The casting is nonetheless fine, but something about the direction and performances is pretty off the mark. The actresses just don’t quite modulate the volume and tone of their voices enough to capture stronger emotions. I also suspect that something might have gone wrong in the sound engineering department, because some of the voices sound sort of hollow and fuzzy. I do, however, commend Marc Smith’s portrayal of Spy D.

And after that, I watched Original Dirty Pair: Project Eden and I regret to report that it made very little impression upon me. I suppose it was sort of fun, but I really can’t remember much of it. That’s a shame; it probably deserves better. I know that I did like the passing apocalyptic touch in its ending, but couldn’t quite understand the plot and found the romantic angle dissatisfying. I also remember being surprised by how different it was from what I associate Kouichi Mashimo with now. I know that conventional wisdom holds that this film is why he returns so often to the girls with guns well, but it’s so different in style and feeling from his later work that I now find that slightly difficult to embrace. I’ll probably want to watch this again to see if will stick better in memory after a second chance.

Ah, once again, well above three thousand words and I even meant for this to be a ‘short’ entry. I shudder to imagine what it would be like if I had written about Birdy the Mighty Decode, Galaxy Express 999 and Adieu Galaxy Express 999. I watched those recently too, but I want to watch them again before I issue any thoughts. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t litter my opinion of Gun Frontier with parodies of the ridiculous paeans to manliness that are read over the end of every episode as I had once planned.

At least none of it was about Dragonaut: The Resonance.

Oh, and, what the hell, one more… The Ruling Class.

(How the Hell did I miss that errinundra had replied to this on Wednesday morning [well, from my perspective]? Oh well, something to read tomorrow, especially since I've been hovering over Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom for a while)
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errinundra
Enjoying the time of EVEEnjoying the time of EVE


Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 2627
Location: Melbourne, Oz

PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:53 pm Reply with quote
Surrender Artist wrote:
...It helps that Lain herself is an endearing character. She’s quiet, well one of her is, and strange, but weirdly charming and its engaging to see her become a more confident and expressive character, though not a less odd one, as the series goes on...


Here's my take on what's going on in the world of Serial Experiments Lain. The Wired is spoiler[directly connected to the human subconscious via the magnetic fields of the wires that carry the Wired, the earth's magnetic field and the human nervous system. This is explained in the documentary sections of the anime. Masami Eiri (or "God") has understood this, downloaded his consciousness into the Wired and - this is important - created the Wired program, Lain, to entice people to join him. Lain exists entirely within the Wired, but is apparent to people in the real world at a subconscious level, via the mechanism explained above. It's a bit like the brain hacking that goes on in Ghost in the Shell. From the suicide of Chisa, Lain steadily becomes more self-aware and to thwart "God" eventually deletes herself from everybody's subconscious awareness.]

I hope that makes sense.
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Nothing Noble



Joined: 22 Sep 2010
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:29 am Reply with quote
I am always late to hop on the anime train. I just finished watching Toradora!

I hate to be cheesy but spoiler[ I think that Ryuuji and Taiga ending up together was great. I felt that their love grew at a believable rate something that a lot of love stories struggle with. I saw it coming but still it was very cute!] The story overall kept me interested and I actually laughed out loud which is unusual for me.

Now I'm watching Durarara! Really really enjoying it more than I thought I would.
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Cam0



Joined: 13 Dec 2009
Posts: 500

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:50 am Reply with quote
Just watched Allison & Lillia, gave it Good.

Have to say, it could have been a lot better. After the spoiler[timeskip] the show kind of changed. spoiler[I would have rather wanted watch Wil's beginning days as a secret agent, AND Allison's reaction when Wil first returns to her.] The second half of the show was a lot weaker than the first half, and I would have wanted a bit more focus on Allison and Wil in the second half. However overall, an enjoyable series.

Now I'm watching Break Blade, and right now it has been Goodish. It has surprised me a few times, but hasn't had enough punch to be very interesting. I've seen 3 episodes so far, and spoiler[right now as Cleo has been captured I'm a bit intrigued as of what they are going to do with her.]
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Auralies



Joined: 24 Dec 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:51 pm Reply with quote
So I'm currently watching Blue Exorcist and despite it appearing to me that it was merely a run-of-the-mill shounen series I'm finding myself surprisingly attached to it. Everything about it screams "done it before" but the various elements of the show go together in such a way that it exceeded all of my expectations. Eagerly waiting for the next episode.

And I just wrapped up Ladies vs Butlers, which was slightly surprising to me. I started watching it merely on a whim and it turned out to be a slightly better than expected take on the harem/romantic comedy genre. I genuinely laughed during the course of the show and interestingly enough the fanservice didn't bother me all that much. Though it isn't going to win any awards I enjoyed it for what it was.
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