Friday, March 31, 2006
(great; if you are an otaku, watch it...if you are not an otaku but know one, this may give you some insight)
I've read a lot of reviews that compare watching the Genshiken anime (as well as reading the original manga) to hanging out with a group of good friends. Now, to me, that sounds like some of the cheesiest cheese of a review that has ever been written about anything. But after having watched the show, I really have to admit that, cheese or no cheese, that is probably about as accurate a description as you can get. Seriously.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I don't personally know a lot of other anime/manga fans, so I guess I can't say that I have a lot of real-life reference material to go off of; but I don't think that matters. The thing that made this show feel more like a social engagement than a narrative is the fact that I (and probably most any fan out there) could find a lot to relate to in the characters. That deep, dark, hardcore otaku in me connected with a lot of members of the Genshiken group. The very fact that I don't have a lot of otaku comrades probably made the show that much more socially cathartic for me.
That aside though, the show is actually very well written. It's not chaotic, like some character-driven dramas can be. Each episode had a natural flow, but also had a good structure. And I've read some reviews that said the show didn't have a satisfactory ending, but I disagree. I thought it ended at as logical a point as you can have, with the torch being passed to the next generation of fan, sort of speak. Regardless, I heard that there is going to be a second season, and the US release of the manga has already passed the point where the anime ended. So there will be plenty of Genshiken to come anyway, which I am very thankful for.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The official homepage for the anime movie Brave Story now hosts a new, long trailer. Click the second option to the left at the bottom of the Japanese site then choose trailer #2. The movie is scheduled for release on July 8th.Why I care: Because the trailer looks so frigging cool! Why else?
Production IG has confirmed that Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society will be a 100 minute long production. The studio anticipates having the new production completed by this summer, but has not yet decided if the new anime will be broadcast on television, released straight to home video, or released as a theatrical movie. The first "promotion image" for Solid State Society will be revealed on March 26th at the Tokyo International Anime Fair.From Anime News Network:
The 100-minute (tentative running time) movie takes place in 2034, two years after the refugee riot incident. A significantly larger Section 9, with over 20 new officers, investigates terrorist actions related to a wizard-like hacker “Kugutsu Mawashi.”
Why I care: Read my incoherent blabberings here.
New Line Cinema is planning on producing a live action movie based on the Monster manga. Apparently there is already an anime, but it's currently not licensed for release in the US.
Why I care: I just started reading the manga and it's really good. Another one -- like Death Note -- that I think would have the potential for cross-audience appeal because the story is easy to follow, and shows that a manga can be adult without having to be that kind of adult (at least not in volume 1). Plus, it's a suspense story which is a genre that is always popular with the masses. I've only read the first volume thus far, but I'm looking forward to what's to come.
Friday, March 24, 2006
(frigging hilarious; recommended)
Hands down, this has to be the funniest anime series I have ever seen. Hell, it ranks up there with the best live action US sitcoms. And what's even better is that the further I got into the series, the funnier it got. By the last two episodes I was just dying!
I really wish that there were more shows like this. I mean, sure there are plenty of comedy animes out there, but so few of them really have the kind of character interaction and comedic timing that gets me to consistently laugh. Maybe it was something in the original novels/manga that gave this series the material that set it apart. Whatever it was, I wish other shows could glean something off of this one.
I just looked up the director, Yasuhiro Takemoto, to see what else he's done. Apparently he did Hare+Guu as well. I saw the first episode of that show on a Newtype DVD, and it was pretty funny. Maybe I should check out the rest of it to see if it's as good as Fumoffu.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Why I care: Oh my God! I love Stand Alone Complex and am so happy they are making a third season I may just spontaneously combust from the overstimulated joy sensors in my brain overheating (assuming such things exist). So far the second season has been even better than the first season, and if the next iteration can top that then I may forsake Catholicism and make Production IG my focus for a new world religion. Though, I don't want to build up my expectations too much... (Too late?)
According to Ain't It Cool News:
Anime on DVD and C21 Media report that Viz has acquired the anime license to Bleach, one of the most popular new action anime series. The company plans to market the anme to teens, and Adult Swim has mentioned that it would fit perfectly with their line-up a-la InuYasha.
Anime News Network has also posted the official press release from Viz.
Why I care: Speaking of Youmacon, I saw the first 10 episodes of Bleach there last year and thought it was pretty good. I don't know if I'm going to go totally ga-ga over it like I do with so many other shows, especially since it's such a long-running series and I don't like having to dedicate that much time/money to one show (with the exception of maybe Rurouni Kenshin). But since it will likely be on Adult Swim, I'm not too worried about it. We'll see.
According to the anime convention's official website, Youmacon 2006 will take place on November 3-5, at the Hilton in Troy, Michigan.
Reportedly during the recent Final Fantasy XII launch event held in Shibuya, Tokyo, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada confirmed that a Playstation 3 remake of Final Fantasy VII is "likely to happen" in response to massive consumer demand. Square Enix, Wada said, is presently "examining the possibility."
Why I care: What the heck am I even bothering to finish the original game for (yes, I am still sludging thorugh it) if I'm just going to have to start over again with a remake? Not that this devious marketing ploy will manipulate me into actually buying a Playstation 3 anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter. That's not to say that I wouldn't want to get the new platform, it's just that I don't want to get sucked into the video gaming black hole again. Anime and manga already take a good chunk of time out of my life...not to mention that attempt to create a little something of my own. Oo... the mystery. :eye roll:
18th Century, just before the French revolution, multiple religious cults of the dark side were engaged in secret maneuvers under the name of Revolution."Le Chevalier D'Eon" (Knight D'Eon) a diplomat and a special agent working for Louis XIV, is fighting against those cults, and also on a mission to find the killer of his own sister. A mysterious cult organization called “Rose Cross” stands in his way, using vicious powers to create a dark creature, “Gargoyle” to over take Europe....
ANN goes on to mention that "Le Chevalier d'Eon, Charles de Beaumont (b.1728 d.1810), was a real-life diplomat and spy in 18th century Europe, most famous for being of questionable gender...It was not until his death that doctors confirmed that he was a man."
Why I care: I haven't exactly been covert regarding my vast respect for animation studio Production IG; so mentioning this new anime should really come as no surprise. I haven't been fond of all the studio's works in terms of their storylines (IGPX, Kaidomaru); but their animation quality is always top notch so anything that comes out of them will always catch my attention.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
(fun, exciting, and original -- just try not to compare it to Cowboy Bebop; recommended)
I'm not sure why, but for some reason Shinichiro Watanabe -- the director of Samurai Champloo (as well as Cowboy Bebop and Macross Plus) -- is really good at mixing genres. Not everyone can pull it off, but when he does it, it's always fun to watch.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he is not a big anime fan. That's not to say that he doesn't appreciate anime (his favorite is Lupin III), it's just that he is more into live action films. That's what he said during that panel discussion a while ago anyway. He grew up on watching tons of American and Japanese films. The only reason he got into anime instead of live action filmmaking was because he heard that anime was "easier". So, again, I wonder if that is what makes his style seem so different from other directors.
Regardless, Samurai Champloo was was a great show. The characters were cool, and the fighting was a blast to watch. Mugen's fighting style has been compared to breakdancing and -- although the director hadn't heard about it until after the series was complete -- many fans apparently thought that his style was based on capoeira which is an kind of African martial arts. Whatever the case, Mugen's moves were so unpredicatable and wild, while still seeming somewhat plausible; and that's a big part of what made it so fun to watch.
Jin's fighting was just the opposite (the "wild" part, not the "fun to watch" part). It was clean and crisp, and although I'm sure Watanabe just developed it in order to balance out Mugen's style, it still had an appeal all its own. Both the characters' attitudes reflected their fighting styles, so even when they weren't fighting and were just ripping on one another verbally, it was almost just as fun.
All in all I had a good time watching it. The only downside was that I was constantly comparing it to Cowboy Bebop. And that isn't fair because -- although Mugen and Spike share some similarities -- it's a totally different story.
As a final note, I just want to say that my wife -- who is not an anime fan -- liked it too. So even non-otakus might want to check it out to see just how cool the show is.
Oh yeah... one final final note. This was the last series I needed to wrap up before I was able to start watching new series! Thank God! I really don't think I ever want to make that "deal" again, if for no other reason than it creates such a huge frigging backlog of titles to watch. Can you say "anime viewing marathon"?
From Anime News Network:
MangaNews has translated part of an interview with CLAMP in which they offer an explanation as to why they ceased working on their epic, apocalyptic manga X. The group attributes the break to various real world tragedies and disasters that parallels their story and a reluctance to change their plans based on the requests of their editor and publisher.
Why I care: I'm not really interested in this as it relates to the X/1999 manga since I never read it and thought the anime movie/series were only okay. But what I did find interesting was CLAMP's reason for putting the ending of the manga on hold. It wasn't so much due to any creative dry-spells or attempts to build tension among the readers. It was actually due to world events, along the same lines of 9/11 when certain movies were put on hold so the audience wouldn't be reminded of the tragedy. Although, one could argue that events like that just make the story all that much more "relevant". I can't help but wonder whether or not anyone would have really noticed/cared if the story was ended on schedule.
From Anime News Network:
Production is underway for a sequel to the Appleseed film, as well as a TV series based on the franchise, according to an interview with Masamune Shirow in the latest Kikan-S magazine. LA's Axis Entertainment first announced the plans in December 2004.
Why I care: I really don't care since I didn't like the movie (though I did enjoy much of the original manga). It's more like I'm shocked that the movie generated enough support to justify expanding the franchise with both a sequel and a series. Maybe they're just betting they can do better this time around.
From AnimeNation News:
Why I care: I love explaining Yaoi to people who have never heard of it, then, just as the look of disgust starts to form on their face, explaining the it is written by women for women readers, and that most of those readers are young teenage girls who absolutely love it. Seeing people's expression after explaining all that is just priceless. :D
Friday, March 10, 2006
(Maybe, maybe not)
I really didn't like this show very much; but still, I can't say that it was all that bad either. (Huh?)
The series takes place in the year 2167, after a radiation wave from an exploding supernova has decimated most of the Earth's population. As it turns out, there is a "Second Wave" approaching which threatens to annihilate the rest of humanity. In order to prevent this disaster, candidates train aboard space stations to take part in the "Great Mission," which is meant to prepare a final defense for the Earth.
The show starts with the arrival of a new class aboard the Stellvia space academy. Shima Katase is one of these new recruits and the series mainly focuses on her struggle to master her skills to take part in the "Great Mission."
All this talk about disaster and destruction may sound exciting, but its mostly a lot of waiting and preparing. In fact, "waiting" seems to be the overall theme. In the first half of the series, the world is waiting and preparing for this "Second Wave". But after that, there is yet another disaster that the crew of the Stellvia has to wait for. I think the creators of the show want you to focus more on what is happening during those interim periods instead of on the disasters themselves. But that didn't really work for me. I just wanted them to get to the disasters and be done with it.
Not that the waiting periods were horribly boring. They mainly involved the budding friendships and romance among the classmates, and their personal struggles to master the skills they needed for the mission. There wasn't a lot of interpersonal strife; just a few misunderstood intentions between friends, and some students' angst over not being able to meeting their own expectations. The characters tried to give support by constantly telling each other to "just do your best!" Its actually kind of refreshing to see that in anime every so often; and taken in a different context, I might have enjoyed it. But I couldn't help but think that it was all just filler before the main event.
So like I said, I can't really call this a bad show, because I can see where you might enjoy it if you don't focus too much on the disaster aspect. It just didn't work for me personally.
Man! This may very well be my most useless review ever.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
(Great, highly recommended for all audiences)
What an enjoyable series this was. It was actually kind of weird and confusing at first, but once you really get into it and all the intracacies of the 12 Kingdoms are explained, it really shines as one of the most involving and well-thought-out anime I've seen in a long time.
The main story arc involves a normal Japanese girl named Yoko who is "spirited away" to another world (along with a couple of her friends) where she is meant to ascend to the thrown of one of its 12 kingdoms. The group eventually gets seperated, and Yoko tries to navigate her way through the world in order to find out just what the heck is going on. Meanwhile the man who brought her to this world, Kaki, is himself trying to find Yoko so she can take her rightful place as queen.
Sounds straitforward enough, right? Well, maybe it is, but I defy anyone to jump into the middle of this series and make sense of anything that anyone is talking about. I say this because the world that the story takes place in has its own set of rules, including a whole dictionary's worth of vocabulary. Make no mistake, this is a series where you have to listen to what's being said and mentally reference back to concepts you've learned previously. Thankfully, from time-to-time, the show makes sure to give you a summary of the concepts that you should know up to that point. Don't let this scare you away though. All of the rules are meant to keep the world in balance. Even the world itself is designed in an unnaturally symentrical design. And this struggle for balance is part of what drives the story and makes it so enjoyable to watch.
The other thing that makes the story great is seeing the characters gradually develop and change due to their experiences. Yoko changes drastically from the weak-minded, easily-influenced girl she is at the beginnig into a strong, compationate, independent-minded ruler. Other characters in the story develop along similiar lines as well. And the change isn't sudden or unnatural either. It's gradual over time as they make mistakes and learn from them that they start to change their attitudes and personalites. It's that tendency for the characters to change -- I think -- that really pulls you into the story.
So this is probably one of my favorite series of all time. In fact, the only issue I really have with it is that there isn't more. The main arc involving Yoko is resolved, but there it seems like there is more that can be told (one of the minor story arcs isn't even resolved at all. :( ). I know that the show is based on a series of novels, so hopefully those books will get translated and brought state-side eventually.
All in all, this was a great series and I had really had fun watching it. I would highly recommend it for otaku and non-otaku alike.
TV Broadcast Info
(Disappointing; not recommended)
* Note 1: I've just seen the 13 episodes shown on Cartoon Network thus far. I have not seen the original mini-series and I don't know if there are going to be any further episodes past 13.
* Note 2 [6/19/06]: I just found out that they are going to be contintuing the series. The first episode of the new season starts today.
This show seemed okay at first. But after I got over the initial "Wow" of the cool visuals, there really wasn't much that kept my interest.
The story revolves around an event called the IGPX (Immortal Grand Prix) that combines Grand Prix racing with battling robots. As an idea, it sounds kind of cool, but the general concept isn't sufficiently developed. For one thing, it never goes into the kind of technical or strategic details that make other battle-oriented shows worth watching (two that come to mind are Initial D and Rurouni Kenshin). I kept getting frustrated with the coach for Team Satomi because he was supposed to be this great, experience racer, but the only advice he ever gave his team was stuff like "do your best" or "we have to win" or "you have to have heart" (although I don't know if he actually literally said any of that stuff), and while that kind of thing may give some people warm fuzzies, it just seemed to me like a way for the series writers to BS their way out of doing any actual work.
But even so, you can have an underdeveloped concept and superficial characters and still have a worthwhile anime if you have intense fight scenes. You know -- the kind of fighting that builds the tension to a crescendo and may or may not end in an explosion. You don't need technical minutiae for that kind of thing, all you need is cool, powerful weapons and driven characters. But in order to have a convincingly driven character, he or she has to be like that all the time -- ie, they can't be wishy-washy or weak-willed. IGPX characters were nothing like that. Pretty much everyone -- scar or no scar -- came off looking weak. So even in the final battle of the series when the characters are screaming each other's names in fits of rage, it was too-little-too-late.
The only thing that really made me keep watching this show was the fact that it was animated by Production I.G. And -- true to form -- the studio did make it look great. But you can pretty much watch the first two episodes and see everything that is worth seeing in terms of the visuals. After that, there really isn't anything new.
So suffice to say I was very disappointed by this series. Hopefully Cartoon Network and Production I.G will learn their lesson from this. Anime is anime and US animation ... isn't. Trying to combine the just doesn't seem to work.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Why I care: I'm current working on reading the third volume of the Death Note manga and I love it, so I am looking forward to seeing this movie when it comes States-side (if not before).
Bandai launched the official English site for Eureka 7, a 2005-2006 mecha anime. Among the features on the site include story and character info, a trailer, wallpapers, and more. You can visit the site at the following address: http://eurekaseven.bandai-ent.com/.
The first DVD volume of Eureka 7 streets on April 25th.
More details on the DVD release from AnimeNation:
Bandai Entertainment has officially announced plans for a domestic release of Eureka Seven anime, manga, and music. Bandai will release the first Eureka Seven DVD on April 25th in a $24.98 disc only edition and a $59.98 disc with collector's box, t-shirt, manga with exclusive cover, and CD soundtrack.
In addition to the DVD release set for April 25th, Bandai Entertainment Inc. has plans to release two manga series, a four volume adaptation of the series storyline and a two volume series based on the Eureka Seven video game prequel story, as well as a stand alone soundtrack. There are also plans in the works to broadcast the series on a premier TV network.
Why I care: I've seen the first few episodes of this series via fan-sub downloads, and judging just from that, it's going to live up to the hype. Plus the series was produced by my second favorite anime studio -- Studio Bones -- so I'm pretty excited to see the rest of this one.
Friday, March 03, 2006
This is old but still pretty funny.
The OS-tan or simply OS Girls are the personification of several operating systems (OSes), most famously Windows, by various amateur Japanese artists. A pure fan creation, the appearance of each OS-tan is generally consistent across artists. OSes are almost always portrayed as women, the Windows girls usually as sisters, despite sometimes seeming the same age... (more)
You can have your very own Hideaki Anno to pose and admire in all his articulated glory. This figure depicts the renowned director as Ultraman from Daicon Film's 1983 production "The Return of Ultraman". Never before has plastic been able to capture such amazingness as with this glorious action figure. You just might sell your soul and disown yourself for the opportunity to own this fine specimen of geekery. This limited edition figure is available from the Mediacom Toy Corporation.
See EvaMonkey for the images.
Why I care: Because it's hilarious. Plus, I finished reading Notenki Memoirs a few months ago, which is the story of the creation of studio Gainax, and it talks all about the Daicon and Ultraman stuff. I definitely recommend the book if you're a Gainax fan, BTW.
From Anime News Network:
The February 24 issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article on the next two James Cameron projects. The deal with Twentieth Century Fox was to do both projects, so that one wouldn't be done without the other."We couldn't do one unless we do both," says Cameron. "They use the same technology."
The technology that Cameron is speaking of is a brand-new high-definition 3-D. Cameron hopes to have at least 1,000 theaters capable of showing HD-3D by the time the movies are released, but fans shouldn't worry because there will be standard 2-D prints made.
According to the article Battle Angel is slated for a 2009 release.
And from AnimeNation:
Ain't It Cool News has reported that director James Cameron personally admitted that he's still undecided whether his next film project will be Battle Angel Alita or his original science fiction film Avatar. Both movies will be shot back-to-back using state of the art digital 3D cameras, and Cameron has stated that his Lightstorm Studio has already produced full 3D CG models of Alita that he's satisfied with. Cameron also confirmed again that he plans to make Battle Angel a movie trilogy.
Why I care: Because I love the Battle Angel Alita manga and pray to God that Cameron doesn't screw this up.
French fan site Catsuka now hosts a downloadable 3 minute long theatrical trailer for Studio Ghibli's upcoming film Gedo Senki (Tales of Earthsea). The video clip, recorded from an exclusive Japanese TV broadcast on the "Zoom in Super" program, is in Real Media format.
Why I care: This should be an interesting release from Ghibli since the movie was directed by Hayao Miyazaki's son, Goro Miyazaki. And from the trailer it just looks like a Miyazaki movie, so you can tell that the son was obviously influence by the father. Then add to that the fact that Hayao is totally against the idea of his son directing, which for some reason makes me want to see the movie all the more...