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I predict that Darker than Black is going to be one of the "cool" shows this season -- the series clearly has high production values, an illustrious director, a Yoko Kanno soundtrack, pretty attractive characters, light but nice action and not bad OP/EDs either. Apparently, it's going all over the place in Japan. There is no doubt in my mind this will be licensed even before it's over. On a scale of dark though, I'd rate this a Gackt. My first impression of this is that it's got just enough gristle to keep me interested, but is probably a little too cool to be spectacular. I'm calling it my replacement Ghost Hunt. )
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I'd originally wanted to wait until I finished the whole series before I said something, but after the first two episodes, I had to talk about this title -- it's one of those shows that's just going to compel me to.

Venjuuuuuuuuns. Bluud. Cute Girls. What Purgatory Should Be. )
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So, one of my pet fascinations lately has been this animated series about a team of multi-denominational ghost hunters that seems slightly billed in the wrong genre. Ghost Hunt comes in a season peppered with ghost-busting shows. While it doesn't break the mold as an investigative show, it is a very well done show, and has a real added benefit of being one of the truly creepy ghost-related shows I've seen in a while. The story focuses on the Shibuya Psychic Research company, headed by teenaged wunderkid Shibuya "Naru" Kazuya. The team of parapsychologists he heads consists of a Chinese Taoist exorcist, a Catholic priest, a Shinto monk, a miko and two psychics. Each episode is seen through the eyes of Mai, Naru's secretary and a high school student who gets suckered into helping him early in the series. Almost every case is based in some kind of real parapsychological problem or case, leading to my incentive for watching this show -- the parapsychological geekdom and name-dropping harked back to one of my pet reading subjects as a puppy. As far as allusions to the outside world go, this show rocks.

I am raving about Ghost Hunt. )
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I do not understand high school romance anime. It seems to require some sort of extra genetic material I just don't have. My brain refuses to compute it.*

This was supposed to be a mecha show. I swear, looking at the promo shots, this was supposed to be a mecha show. And there are cool mecha in this show, in tiny pieces of airtime. I'll start with the mecha parts, because that gives me one thing nice to say about this. The CG is pretty seamless, especially for the very cool cloaking sequences. The very first (deceptive) mecha fight we see, of lead guy Sousuke's M9 taking down a chopper, rubs that in a big way, with the M9 shimmering out of a snow-covered woodland, complete with dramatic strings in the soundtrack and shiny explosions. In fact, the fights for this show are usually decent stuff. When it happens.

You see, Full Metal Panic has a nice name and all, but it's a high school romantic comedy. With love triangles, hackneyed dialogue, Big Boobed Girls with Anime-Coloured Hair (BBGwACH pronounced bug-whack; my preference for Bleach is partially based on the idea the lead girl is flat)** and the lot. It is so much a high school romantic comedy, in fact, I have to wonder why anyone even bothered with the mecha element.

Hatehatehatehatehatehatehate. )
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It has been a long time since I've watched this series. I will probably never forgive Gonzo Animation for what they did to at least three of the manga they adapted for the tiny screen. But in many respects, Peacemaker Kurogane was still the best adaptation they ever did. I gave up on it, two years ago, after a slew of filler episodes and the mismatched plot destroyed my faith in anything by this company, indeed, any swordfighting drama, for a good long time. Even so, the filler episodes made sense, and the characters never stepped out of context like other more unfortunate adaptations, Chrno Crusade and Fullmetal Alchemist being the first two that spring to mind with a vengeance. And ultimately, it will be this series that reminds me why my first love is swordfighting drama, and why even now, it is this genre that keeps me watching.

Watching Elegant Predators Tear Each Other Apart. )
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I have a low tolerance for shows I can't get into within the opening minutes. It's not that I expect opening sequences to be great all the time, within reason. The most recent example being Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge (Perfect Girl Evolution), where both the anime and the manga were similarly ugly as sin -- but the humour survives as a testament to what happens when the Ring girl in her well gets her own shoujo manga. That is, I tend to expect a show with a damn ugly opening sequence to have something worth speaking about in terms of the story even more than other shows. I have yet to find all that many shows that question this snap judgment. It is a snap judgment. In the way I trust my instincts to tell me if a story is lousy within the opening lines, I trust the same instincts to tell me if a show will make me run away screaming by the way the opening sequence pans out.

And that doesn't happen here, or at least, in not enough of a proportion to justify itself. After one and a half minutes of flowers, bright colours and a blatantly girly soundtrack, we open with five unconscious girls delivered home in the wee hours of the morning by the men in black. One of the cars the girls are traveling in gets attacked by zombies and crashes. The next morning, the NYPD (yes, it's set in New York, where everyone speaks Japanese) find the body of the girl from the car that was attacked in the woods. They figured she committed suicide, but note that this is the fifth time this month they've found a girl in that condition. So far so good, right?

Read more... )
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The Show

The Stuffing )

The English

The Languageness )

The Music ('Cause an anime about rock music should not have a soundtrack that sucks.)

THE NOISE! )

Whaddaya know, I was able to finish this review without having touched the manga once. Yay me!
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Neurotic Pummelling Fangirlism Inside )
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I was kind of warned about this one. Oh, yeah. Pretty boys in period costumes? With swords? Growling at each other?

Why, I don't know what to say, really. )
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I'd been wondering why there was a carriage popping out of nowhere last week. Just skimming through, so I can get to the next episode, y'know, the one with swords and people in period swordfighting wear...

Read more... )

Genshiken 1

Sep. 1st, 2006 01:20 am
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This was one of those titles I'd promised a friend I'd watch before the end of time. It's actually a good contrast to watch with N.H.K. ni Youkoso, as they both study otaku and anime/manga/game-related fandom in different directions. Genshiken's approach is more light-hearted than N.H.K., with by far less enigmatic drama or people whinging like civillization was about to end. Apart from the contrast, I'm finding it a relief to watch just to escape the latter title's suicidal angst. There's also a wider fandom angle that Genshiken takes I'm appreciating, as it is interested in showing us a range within the culture rather than a concentrated segment, as the aforementioned title provides.

And it is proving to be an interesting ride. )
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Because I feel people are not nearly horrified by this enough, I suggest one pays a short visit to the ending sequence of NHK ni Youkoso (Welcome to NHK!) as seen on YouTube. Because I can't really not tell you about the earless corpses of Cat in the Hats sacrificed for this video nearly enough, or that completely messed up soundtrack, or even the snide commentary on people returning to infantile states to escape the idiocy of this ridiculous life.

Game creators and writers everywhere would like to tell you: Writing is Hard Work. )
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All the spoilerish stuff goes here. )

Notes (Where I Explain Myself)

The Hikkomori are considered a primarily Japanese psychiatric problem (though if I am not too mistaken, foreign experts tend to disagree with this to a certain extent -- at least in terms of extreme shut-ins not being unique in the medical world, although Japanese cultural influences have shaped the issue of their hikkomori to something unique in their society). Hikkomori have only just begun to be recognized as a valid medical problem in Japan, with appropriate support groups springing up.

The series further branches into exploring different kinds of depression, and lots of Japanese otaku culture, to which our protagonist is connected. Tatsuhiro, our hero in question, personally believes that the Japanese media is responsible for creating hikkomori to have a captive market for their cute anime girls, for example, and this becomes one of the narrative's early frames. It's an interesting and relevant theory, because questions have arisen lately among Japanese otaku, apparently, about how their interest is shaping the anime/manga/game industry, and how this is creating a seriously materialistic and homogenous form of consumerism. The growing lack of originality in that industry is another other idea this show addresses directly, since the majority of the story revolves around the game-creation process.

Yamazaki as the otaku in the picture is shown as a normal, well-dressed young man, not very much different from obsessive fans of any other kind. He supports himself with his own income, and doesn't look so horrifically geeky you couldn't believe him. I appreciated this much, given the recent hype over the Densha Otoko franchise, which I frankly found quite surreal in that regard. It's the exact sort of mass consumerism that Yamazaki criticizes in the show, though it's clear he himself subscribes to some of it. And it's a nice sort of juxtaposition -- it's really not that easy to find a true anarchist in a capitalist state, however we look at it.

PS: I'm totally liking that crazy gyrating Cat in the Hat of a closing sequence now. How can I not do that? The soundtrack's awesomely messed up! Dude, you have not lived until you've seen gyrating, screen-humping Cat in the Hats. Not even living Cat in the Hats. The corpses of earless Cat in the Hats. Bring on the kamasutra Cat in the Hats!
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