Category Archives: anime

Revisiting old movies

Bad example: Ghost in the Shell 2.0. The CGI just doesn’t feel right, and it feels like messing with the film just for the sake of messing with it.
Good example: Evangelion 1.0 — You are (not) alone. In contrast, really excellent.

’tis a good season for anime

I haven’t watched much anime in the past few years, but recently there have been a fair number of shows which I’m actively following again; some due the teams behind them (Seirei no Moriboto, Ghost Hound), and some due to their premise (Dennou Coil, Nodame Cantabile).
So far, I can say the Seirei no Moriboto is really good. It’s technically well done, it tells a good story, and is not weighed by the common stereotypes. Instead, it simply tells the story of its characters, all of which behave believably and consistently.
Oh, and Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann is very old-fashioned and modern at the same time, and still typical Gainax. It certainly throws some curve-balls your way and is not quite as juvenile as it may at first seem.

PS: Why is Death Note so popular? I found it mostly annoying (due to the dislikable characters). I don’t get it at all. Still don’t know why I bothered watching it ’till the end…

Tekkon Kinkreet

An amazing movie. Very enjoyable, but slightly fragmented (with many fades to black separating scenes) and very surreal.
I’m a bit sad that many people won’t bother with the film because it seems to make very little sense in the beginning (and not too much more explicit sense in the end); it’s more like a collage of emotions at times.
The art style takes some getting used to, it is similar to Ping Pong from the same mangaka — which also has an excellent live action adaptation which I cannot recommend heartily enough; it evokes many of the same feeling that Tekkon Kinkreet does.
Technically, the 2D animation has a rather low frame-rate at times (and I’m not sure I like the motion-blur post-processing in that context), but the excellent backgrounds and superb 3D animation (which managed to never feel separate) are more than making up for that.
Last but not least, the soundtrack (although sparse) by Plaid fits perfectly.

Truly a high point for animated films this year!

Paradise Kiss Anime

The now is a Paradise Kiss anime (from Ai Yazawa’s manga) and judging from the first episode, it looks good. It sometimes mixes real backgrounds, characters have facial expressions, and it’s got voice actors I haven’t already heard a hundred times. Which altogether make it feel fresh, so that alone is a reason to watch it (other than the good humour — they’ve managed to translate the manga well without losing its a bit more adult focus). The animation is not always great, but rather focused; i.e. the parts that actually matter are animeted very well.
Oh, and George is still my hero… 😉

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (again!)

I’ve been reading the more recent chapters of the Yokohama Shopping Log manga by Ashinano Hitoshi this evening. It made me cry (again!). Thus, I have to implore you — whoever you may be — to read it and be moved. Because it’s just that good. It isn’t for everyone, but you ought to have at least tried.
There is an excellent Wikipedia article that can give you an idea of the series. If you’re still interested in reading, start your journey here and then move here for the more recent chapters.

Emma – Victorian Romance

I quite liked the first episode of the “Emma” anime (and I have to admit that I did not yet get around to take a look at the manga — although I’ve finished “Shirley” by the same author), all of which is thankfully provided by the iichan translation group. If you have a strong dislike of (non-superpowered) maids, this is probably not for you; it is very much “down-to-earth”.
I find it very intriguing and in the same vein as Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (“Yokohama Shopping Log”) with its slow development and strong focus on tiny little details (with good and detailed animation), but “Emma” seems to have a sadder undertone, which is underlined by the dark brownish-grey colour scheme for a Victorian London (I presume it is London from the picture of Big Ben in the ending), the contrast between poverty and the Rich as well as Emma’s reluctance to accept what would probably be best for her (in a variety of ways); but this is what makes the story. My only hope is that not too much trouble lies ahead for Emma, as I wish her well.
Slow, but recommended. Associated feeling of the day: mono no aware.

Beyond the Clouds

“Beyond the Clouds” is Shinkai Makoto’s new work, after Voices of a Distant Star. In contrast to “Voices” (which was about 25 min), “Clouds” is a full featured movie running for about 90 minutes. And as expected when one works with such a small staff, the project took a lot longer than originally estimated, but then it was only supposed to run for about 50mins.
In any case, the artwork is still highly recognisable (e.g. the “blush lines” across the characters’ cheeks) with its lush colours and an excellent use of contrast / bloom. The backgrounds are jawdropping and the CG is integrated much better than before (i.e. you hardly notice it). Similarly, the story also deals with the same (romanticised and melodramatic) themes as its predecessor — seperation and love, but it also adds a third person to the mix.
I quite like the idea of the story; it has some interesting “hard” science fiction ideas in it as well as reflecting more or less current political events — all set in a parallel universe that diverges from our own somewhere in the 1970s.
All in all, it has obvious similarities to “Hoshi no Koe”, but that cannot be a bad thing. It is very easy to forget that this project was undertaken by comparatively few people led by Makoto, which makes it all the more impressive. Very much looking forward to the R1 DVD.
As an aside, how does one play the violin with the bowstring upside down? 😉

Ghost in the Shell 2 – Innocence

I got the R1 DVD of “Ghost in the Shell 2 – Innocence” today (although it’s only supposed to be somewhen after christmas). Picture quality is (as expected) very good, there is no dub (which is good for an art film such as this), and most surprisingly there a commentary track with Oshii. 😀
So it’s exactly what Manga’s crappy release should’ve been like… except for the close caption only subtitles.

BECK (Mongolian Chop Squad) Manga

After watching and (in spite of the mediocre animation quality) enjoying the Beck anime — it is one of the few I watch as soon as I get them, I tried the manga by Harold Sakuishi. Now I can say that the anime is a very faithful adaption of the manga and that the manga is bloody awesome! It has replaced Yotsubato! as my favourite manga.
In the beginning, it feels a bit “angsty”, but it never loses its humour so that it becomes overwhelming. And when the band finally comes together and plays, the “performance” artwork is excellent and conveys the energy very well. The characters also change, grow and behave believably in their own context. And it had me laughing out loud plenty of times (e.g. Chiba’s “What dream?”).
Highly recommended!

Appleseed Movie (2004)

The worst thing about it is the music. The story is a bit convoluted (as is Masumune Shirow’s original manga), but the artwork in this film is superb. The modelling and the texture work is awesome, in particular with respect to the technical designs (e.g. Spider Cannon) and the warn-torn city. The smoke, fire and water effects are also a sight to behold. I was more impressed with the CG in this than “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” or even live-action movies like Matrix Revolutions.
This is on a level with “Ghost in the Shell: Innocence” from a visual point of view, although I prefer the traditional character animation to the complete CG look of Appleseed, nonetheless it makes animation (via motion capture) a lot more believable. Definitely one to see on the big screen if you have the chance.

Samurai Champloo

I decided that I had to start one of the new anime series eventually, and thus watched the first five episodes of “Samurai Champloo”. It seems good fun, is rather bloody and foremost stylish. But that is also one of the problems I have with it: It seems to be tailor-made for the American market. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (of “Cowboy Bebop” fame) and outfitted with — sometimes fitting and sometimes forcibly overlaid — hip-hop music, the character designs are very reminiscent (but not as radical) as the Animatrix’ “The Kid” with its very slender limbs.
I have to say the animation is awesome enough to make me keep watching it, but I sincerely hope that there will be a properly engaging story-arc rather sooner than later… A trio of two different (and averse) but equally capable samurai and the reconciling quota-female is not the most ground-breaking of story ideas.