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Jose Cruz Reviews Anime Titles. Latest: Made in Abyss


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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1426
Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:53 pm Reply with quote
When I had joined this forum 2 years ago I had watched about 100 anime titles over my life up to that time, now I have watched nearly 400 (I stopped updating my ANN anime list some time ago). Now I think that I am experienced enough as an anime fan to critically judge the quality of different titles. So I am making this thread to talk about the stuff I have watched recently. I am not planning to do deep reviews but just do general comments and rate the stuff I have been watching recently.

Last edited by Jose Cruz on Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:25 pm; edited 22 times in total
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1426
Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:11 am Reply with quote
Ping Pong: The Animation (2014)



Ping Pong: The Animation is simply a great show, looks like one of the masterpieces of recent years. It's characterized by great visual creativity and a very distinct visual style, the director is known to not follow any of the standards of the industry to copy typical manga styles and bright color schemes.

Instead of focusing on detail as most anime shows do, the focus is on the animation. Indeed, in terms of fluidity some scenes in this show are superior to most films and the realism of the depiction of the physical motion of the sport is incredible. The tactility of reality can be better captured in animated form in this way than by the use of live action film as well as the explicit characterization of the character's psychological states.

Character development is great and each individual main character is endowed with a distinct personality and conveyed in a very economical way given the whole series is 11 episodes long. It reminds me of Madoka in being a masterpiece that succeeds both in terms of writing and on the visual levels while not having any sort of "fat" as quite sophisticated plot, thematic pursuits and character development is compressed in a short number of episodes.

Out of Yuasa's work this is my favorite but I also liked Mindgame, Tatami Galaxy and Catsoup very much but this one rises to another level thanks to superior writing (like Madoka is superior to other Shimbo's titles mostly thanks to superior writing). The plot is extremely entertaining much more than the Tatami Galaxy, the other TV series Yuasa directed. I was glued to the screen for the duration of the show. Character development was extremely well done and the themes the show deals with had strong resonance with me.

My rating: 10/10, it's perhaps the most recent classic of the medium of animation.[/img]


Last edited by Jose Cruz on Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1426
Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:25 pm Reply with quote
Shin Koihime Musou Otome Tairan (2010)



After watching a masterpiece that made my blood boil with excitement (quoting Kazuo Koike), nothing better than to watch some bare bones generic show based on an eroge game. It's pretty straighforward stuff: cute girls doing cute things, cute girls with huge boobs, a ton of fanservice and a very bare bones plot. Overall, I expected this to be mediocre and my expectations were fully meet.

One of the things about it, however, to attracted my attention is how perfectly standard looking are the character designs: standard horny teenager manga character designs that look like came straight from the mid to late 2000's period. They are looking exactly like the art of images in the entries on TV tropes dealing with anime tropes.

Rating is 5/10 for someone who doesn't want to think while watching some very low brown entertainment.
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
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Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:45 pm Reply with quote
Kaiba (2008)



I don't understand people who say that anime is in decline and that the medium is populated with harem and moe shows. Of course, at all time and in all mediums, being it animation, live action film, computer games, literature or music, 90% of everything is mediocre, it's the 10% that we care about and that define the potentialities of a medium. Among those titles that define the artistic potential of a artistic medium.

One interesting thing about anime (hence, for animation in general considering how insignificant western animation is) is that the vast majority of the masterpieces of the medium exist as TV series.

Anime developed as a mainly TV medium due to the fact that Japanese cinema was in decline by the 1980's hence it made sense to release anime directly to video. Also there is the fact that since Japanese salarymen are afraid of the social stigma of going to watch animation in public at the theater so most of them only watch animation secretly at the comfort of home (anime sales are 10 times larger than live action film sales in Japan, even though it makes only 40% of the gross among Japanese film, as Miyazaki said: the type of film people watch at home might be different than the film they watch in public, indeed, early Ghibli films only made a profit thanks to VHS sales to otaku market). Eventually anime studios found out that buying the time slots of late night TV was a good way to advertise their OVA's so these OVA's became TV series, technically. This explains the existence of so many anime series with cinematic characteristics such as Kaiba, as Miyazaki said, when he and Takahata directed Heidi in the 1970's they though of it as film not as a TV cartoon.

Kaiba is absolutely amazing in many ways. It's art style is consciously simplistic but elegant at the same time. It truly explores the potential of animation as an artistic medium by combining interesting visual language with an energetic direction. While sacrificing complexity of character designs and background art it enables the animation of a much more fluid environment giving the series a higher framerate and a rather unique look.

Borrowing the character designs from classic Tezuka style but making a strictly adult series out of it, as the plot is an absolutely brutal love story. Similar to Madoka in that regard (as I said, Madoka is the standard by which all other animation should be measured! Laughing, like in Madoka we even had the fact that peoples mind's can be housed in small objects like "soul gems"), being a series that is characterized by the justaposition of childlike character designs with brutality.

Being an incredible piece of art. Kaiba might be perhaps the best anime of 2008 and one of the best series I ever had the privilege to watch. My rating is 10/10.
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1426
Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:21 am Reply with quote
Mawaru Penguindrum (2011)



Ikuhara is an artistic genius. All his work can be regarded as first rate and very ambitious. Also, both series he directed and wrote are always very aggressive both in terms of extensive use of symbolism and visual audacity. Like Utena, Penguidrum is an extremely weird show that incorporates enormous amount of symbolism not always with a clear rational significance. Ikuhara has said that all interpretations of Utena symbolism are valid and it's the same for Penguindrum, Although I might argue that the use of symbolism here appears to be slightly more obvious/rational than in Utena: the constant use of subways and subway maps in order to symbolize the concept of fate which is the driving theme of the whole show, for instance is pretty clear.

One thing Penguindrum has over Utena is the technological advances in the anime industry over the 14 years separating both titles. The animation in Penguindrum is much more clear and fluid, lines are much more elegant and the colors do not show the organic imperfections that characterized Utena's animation cells and backgrounds.

Also, differently from Utena, Penguindrum is an obviously adult show. Anime has consistently evolved from targering mostly kids in the 1970's and 1980's to teenagers and adults by the 2000's, as Japan's population is aging so does the consumer demographic of animation. Directors such as Ikuhara who worked in kid's series like Sailor Moon now direct late night otaku stuff like Penguindrum. As a result adult fans of the medium are obviously the beneficiaries.

Though personally I did not feel a strong emotional connection to the characters here as I expected or as I did in other series and I also think that I did not fully understand the plot of this series and all the character's motivations, maybe a re-watch might be in order given it's a fairly complex show. So far I think it's excellent and I give it a 8/10 rating.


Last edited by Jose Cruz on Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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CrowLia



Joined: 24 Feb 2012
Posts: 4948
Location: Mexico
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:50 am Reply with quote
Not to be mean or anything, but it's against the rules to bump your thread.
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Tony K.
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Joined: 18 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:50 am Reply with quote
He's just doing the same thing this guy did. As long as he puts in a decent effort to maintain the thread, he's free to voice his opinions on anime.
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CrowLia



Joined: 24 Feb 2012
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Location: Mexico
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:04 am Reply with quote
If you say it's okay, then I have no problem. I just remember you did shut down mdo7's K-Pop thread because -with the exception of a couple of instances- instead of any actual discussion, most of the thread was mdo7 posting wall of text after wall of text with no one else actually replying to it
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Tony K.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:36 am Reply with quote
K-Pop isn't Japanese, though. Or are you saying I should lock Capitain X's thread, along with this one?
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mdo7



Joined: 23 May 2007
Posts: 5889
Location: Maryland, USA
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:13 pm Reply with quote
CrowLia wrote:
If you say it's okay, then I have no problem. I just remember you did shut down mdo7's K-Pop thread because -with the exception of a couple of instances- instead of any actual discussion, most of the thread was mdo7 posting wall of text after wall of text with no one else actually replying to it


I apologize if I go off topic for a bit, looking back now, I should've realized that the music section of ANN doesn't attract a lot of traffic on ANN despite my thread had a lot of views, but so little replies and debate. I also didn't know bumping thread was frown upon on ANN. So for the record, I'm glad that thread is now closed and I have no intention of recreating that thread. The music section is not that big like compared to anime, manga, or the talkback section. So I'll leave it at that.

Tony K. wrote:
K-Pop isn't Japanese, though. Or are you saying I should lock Capitain X's thread, along with this one?


Well if the ANN forum rule state something about it, that's your call.
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Tony K.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:24 pm Reply with quote
So despite no one having had a problem with Captain X's thread that managed to go 15 pages and get quite a bit of views, all of a sudden, people are having a problem with this one?

I would really like to hear everyone's opinions on the difference and how/why you think I'm not doing my job properly by giving Jose just as fair a chance.

Teh Rules wrote:
1. Discussion should be related to anime, anime news, Anime News Network, the forum topic, or in some way relevant to this website. Excessively off-topic ("OT") posts will be locked or deleted.

Anybody can make an anime review thread like this. I just think most people would either be kinda' bad (as in not detailed enough) or too lazy to keep up with it.

Heck, even a few of the series discussion threads have become my own personal pet projects with me, basically, analyzing/expressing views and showing off screen-caps from fansubs, and, apparently, just to myself, since hardly anyone replies to those, either. Guess I should lock and trash those, too, huh?

Thread-bumping is all about the context. If someone makes a thread asking a question, but then becomes impatient and gets desperate for an answer, therefore, bumping their own thread. That's obviously what we've come to know as "bad bumping."

But if the thread has some kind of thought progression or an established sense of linearity (like a guy chronicling his thoughts or keeping up with a series), I think it'd be safe to assume each subsequent post would present or refer to a new/different idea in it, no?

Whether you care enough to follow said user's work after a little sampling is up to you. If you like it, keep reading. If not, then don't. As long as a user isn't being overly negative and ranting/bashing stuff, I don't see the harm in it.
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 1426
Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:34 pm Reply with quote
What incredibly negative response. This is a forum to talk about anime, isn't it? I am talking about it. I would love people to reply as well. What's the problem with people in this forum? This is basically the same idea of the thread of how you rate the stuff you have been watching but with more detail as I don't want to do in depth reviews of the plot and other elements that conventional long reviews (such as those written by the members of the ANN) write about.

I am not that interested in watching current series because I like to marathon stuff, follow the stuff once a week is too much for me. As well as the fact that if you restrict yourself to the present you limit yourself to the mediocre stuff at the middle of the distribution of quality while if you watch the good stuff produced over the years you will be better off. Too bad that people apparently do not care about the classics (or just old stuff) and only focus on the hyped stuff that's showing currently.


Last edited by Jose Cruz on Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:07 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:56 pm Reply with quote
Hidamari Sketch x SP (2011)



Counting the TV series and specials, this is the 6th installment of Hidamari Sketch that I have watched so far. However, the whole franchise feels pretty much like a single thing, though the quality of the animation steadily improves upon each iteration. This was the first iteration of the franchise made just after Madoka and the success of Bakemonogatari, as a result Shaft had enormous resources to throw at it if compared to the first season and it shows. Very few slice of life shows have been this well animated, perhaps Nichijou alone can claim to have superior animation (but less detailed art).

The other elements, however, are identical to earlier installments of Hidamari. It has no plot, no significant character development and is one of the few shows that focus almost exclusively on "cute girls doing cute things". It's pure unadulterated cuteness filtered and injected intravenously. It's a visceral pleasure show for those who like the genre and people who are not into cute girls doing cute things will be certainly turned off by it as it offers very little besides that and some audacious visuals (but in the sense of maximizing the cuteness aspect as well). In a way it's similar to a form of pornography but instead of focusing on sexual stimulation it appeals on the (unsatisfied) protective fatherly instincts of the otaku social class (and motherly as well I guess).

The voice acting can be characterized as aggressively attempting to sound as cute as humanly possible. And the character designs are Ume Aoki's style which is moe as hell (which I personally love). The art style is also extremely aggressive characterized by vibrant contrasting colors with little variation and extremely simple background designs. The direction is typical of Shimbo, characterized by a huge number of so called irrational cuts, where the shoots do not follow a clear logical progression, instead cutting from head to the feet instantly and without any notice. Overall I find it a nice and relaxing show. A light pleasure without much substance though. My rating is 7/10.
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Jose Cruz



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
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Location: Serra Gaucha/Minnesota
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:05 pm Reply with quote
Spirited Away (2001)



I have watched this film six times already. It's an absolutely awe inspiring work of art, mainly because it's rich and dense atmosphere but it's also great from many other perspectives. Widely regarded as one of Miyazaki's greatest works and it's one of the most well regarded animations ever made (specially in the west, as among animation titles it's as well regarded as it gets, though in Japan otaku, animation critics and film critics still prefer Miyazaki's earlier work). And it's easy to see why, differently from most anime title, Spirited Away is accessible to children and adults who have not been exposed to substantial quantities of anime before.

I personally claim to become an anime fan after I watched this masterpiece about 3 years ago, even though I have been watching anime series since I was 5 years old (with Saint Seya being the first). After watching it the artistic potentialities of animation were revealed to me, at least from an adult perspective. I knew that large number of adult fans of Japanese animation existed and that they watched stuff like Lain (which I had watched when I was 13-14), but I personally wasn't that interested in the medium at the time I watched it. I finally decided to try to watch it after being bored from Hollywood's products and American shows after being immersed into those for years and over the next 8 weeks after experiencing Spirited Away I had watched 30 anime films (all Ghibli's output, plus Akira, Ghost in the Shell, some of Shinkai's, Kon's and Hosoda's films) and 5 series (Planetes, Cowboy Bebop, EVA and Conan (1978) and Mushishi if my memory is correct).

Spirited Away is such a great film perhaps because it is extremely Japanese but also extremely universal. While some people unfamiliar with anime might think it's a children's movie, and Miyazaki himself said he made it for small children, it's an extremely brutal film in many respects. That's easy to see if you pay attention as it depicts a small child watching her parents being effectively killed in a grotesque way, have almost a nervous breakdown and then she manages to survive by being forced to work as a serf (work in exchange of food and a roof to say) of a kind of feudal lord of a magic bathhouse. Miyazaki said he was inspired to deal with the theme of child labor after watching a documentary about child labor in Peru's copper mines. However, Miyazaki also said he designed Chihiro to be a stronger character relative to the typical modern Japanese child, which he regards as extremely spoiled. He said such a child would certainly not survive under the same conditions as those experienced by Chihiro. The depiction of such brutality is part of the film's main message which is a criticism of Japan's current super consumerist culture and the child-like spoiled immature people it produces: Miyazaki claims that a 20 year old in 2001 Japan's is much more like a child than a 20 year old in 1950's Japan who was a mature adult.

This kind of brutality in terms of honestly and seriously depicting extreme life and death situations is one of the things lacking in western animation in general and one of the things that place Ghibli in an unique position in regards to family films: other great anime directors like Oshii, Otomo, Hosoda, Kon and Shinkai do not make family films, Hosoda's Wolf Children, for example, which might look like a family film, is a film which Hosoda claims was made for parents of small children, though one could argue that Miyazaki claims to make children's movies due to Japan's social stigma against strictly adult animation (which was almost certainly much stronger a few decades ago).

The style and character designs are much more subtle and controlled than in current anime titles. The eyes are smaller, the hair is less pointy, character design is more round and less angular (more similar to 1970's anime style) and overall the colors are less bright and the Kazuo Oga backgrounds are characterized by an insane level of detail.



Spirited Away also exemplifies Miyazaki's school of though in regards to cinema. Differently from Sergei Eisentein's school of film, which claims that a film should be understood as the combination of elements represented in each particular scene over time (the montage theory of cinema), Miyazaki adopts the inverse approach: that each singular scene of a film should try to reflect the totality of the tone and themes represented in the whole (in the image above for instance, we see how alone and vulnerable Chihiro is in that environment and how elegant and yet expressive the scene is in depicting the tension between the characters). It's an approach to maximizes the amount of richness depicted in each scene (both visually and in terms of dialogue/writing) and makes the film significantly more entertaining and accessible for general audiences. Spirited Away is an obvious success not only in terms of being a masterpiece of the medium but also in terms of being of almost universal accessibility and being an elegant film to awe inspiring levels. My rating is obviously 10/10, as this is a strong candidate for the title of greatest animated film ever made.
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Touma



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
Posts: 2651
Location: Colorado, USA
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:35 pm Reply with quote
Jose Cruz wrote:
What incredibly negative response.


I do not know if it is possible, but I hope that you can ignore the negativity and continue with your reviews.
I really think that the complaints are not actually about you or your thread. They are really about something that happened previously.
You just happened to get caught in the crossfire.

By the way, I love Shin Koihime Musou Otome Tairan and have watched it, and its two predecessors four times.
Seriously.Smile
But I do not have time to go into why right now, and I suck at writing reviews.
Maybe later.
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