ANN Mahiro Maeda page

My average ranking: 6.67

Director Pantheon: Mahiro Maeda Rating
Ani-Kuri 15 (special) Decent

Princess Onmitsu segment. Very frenetic with some sly digs at anime cliches including some of Gonzo's but otherwise forgettable. Worth a "So-so" ranking on its own.
Blue Submarine No.6 (OAV) Decent

Visually impressive show that suffers from compression of story and character development in order to revel in its marvellous CGI animation. There is a good story here that could have had more exposition, especially in the portrayal of Hayami's growing awareness of what is really going on, and also in explaining Zorndyke's true motivation. I would also like to have seen a more adventurous approach to the relationship between Hayami and the fish-woman Mutio (pictured above). Doing so may have drawn attention away from the pacifist message but I feel that exploring the inter-species relationship would have been fascinating, especially when the other major female character, Kino, isn't particularly engaging. Disappointingly, the music is largely inappropriate.
Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (movie) Not really good

Iteration #3 brings back to the rebuild series everything that was most excruciating about the TV series and had hitherto been avoided in the films - emphasis on Shinji. And beyond him there isn't one single interesting personality or character in any iteration of the franchise. Well, that's not entirely true: Misato Katsuragi could be fun at times, especially when seiyuu Kotono Mitsuishi was at her most melifluous. Here she only opens her mouth to bellow orders. Shinji spends much of his time in characteristic foetal position while Rei spends her time perfecting her thousand-yard stare and Gendo is as inscrutably obnoxious as ever. Despite his best efforts, you just know Shinji's going to bring about the end of the world as we know it.

The rip-snorting action of the opening and closing sequences have more in common with Gurren Lagann, what with all the explosions and corny stunts, than the original Neon Genesis Evangelion. There never was much philosophical substance to the franchise so if the producers wanted to up the ante I suppose the only way to go is the bigger and bigger explosions route. For all the noise and colour it was, in a word, boring. It's empty and silly and, this time, not even the action sequences could save it.

Extended review

Gala (movie) Good

From the Genius Party Beyond anthology. A giant object from the sky lands in a world of alien "earth" creatures. Their initial fears are transformed into celebration as it sprouts into our human world. It's twenty minutes of steadily growing bliss, you might say.
Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (TV) Excellent

Sublime series with an impeccable sense of drama, timing and editing, a gorgeous, psychadelic appearance, and a memorable soundtrack. Plot? Characters? Don't worry about those - just borrow from a time-honoured classic. Add a setting that's retro and sci-fi all at once, stir in heaps of attitude and you have a series like no other. But it's not just a fortuitous blending of ideas that somehow accidentally work. Let me give a couple of examples that illustrate how thoughtful direction created such a singular piece of art. First example. The background art relies on a lot of 3D iteration and surprisingly little detail. Observing it closely reveals it to be, for the most part, basic fare. The drawings of the characters are flat 2D and also unexceptional. If it were left at that you would have yet another anime where the 2D characters and the 3D background sit uncomfortably together thereby drawing attention to their limitations. So what does Mahiro Maeda do? Photoshops complex textures into the clothing and hair of the characters (and sometimes the scenery as well). The textures don't move with the characters, creating the most arresting effects and not simply obscuring the 2D/3D shortcomings but making a sensual virtue of them. Sheer genius. The other example is Maeda's radical departure from the original character of the Count. By inserting a second creature - the ineffable, terrifying Gankutsuou - into the body of Edmond Dantes to create the Count of Monte Cristo, Maeda gives us a complex character who is as much hero as villain. We can separate the evil in the Count from the original, wronged young man and sympathise with him. For me, anime villains are the most irritating characters in the medium, usually just mad and bad. The Count is a memorable exception.
Second Renaissance (OAV) Excellent

The magnificent Second Renaissance Parts 1 & 2 segments are the stand outs of the Animatrix anthology, telling the cataclysmic history of how the Matrix came to be. Twenty minutes of backstory without characters has never been so grippingly told or so beautifully animated.
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