Category Archives: anime

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.

Gunslinger Girls

I have finally taken the time to watch the last four episodes of this show, and it is one of the very few series I have seen recently where the ending perfectly suits the series. It has a sad undertone — which is evident throughout (by concept as well as by execution) — and quite cleverly avoids the mistake of having to have a “big bang action finale”. All throughout, the artwork is very good and pays huge amounts of attention to tiny details.
Recommended, but beware of the leisurely pace.

Naruto / Full Metal Alchemist

I have been (or more precisely: I currently am) catching up on anime (at the cost of Ninja Gaiden) and so far have gotten to the current episodes of “Naruto” and “Full Metal Alchemist”. Both rock, but in rather different ways. “Naruto” is simply good entertainment (massive build-up but also a good pay-off (e.g. the Hokage fight)), whereas “Full Metal Alchemist” is for a slightly older audience and seems surprisingly coherent and has plenty of shock-value.