Archive for July 6th, 2008

Code Geass R2: Worst/Best Birthday Present EVER.

PART THE FIRST: FANBOY RANT
I. PRELUDE

I have to vent. Really, I do. REALLY. I’m proud of the Geass writers, and of Goro, and of Sunrise, and etc etc etc. Really, I am.

BUT

II. THE RANT

I hate you, Rolo. My hate for you knows no ends. You could be the nicest, sweetest guy on the planet Earth, really you could be, and I will hate your guts until I rip them out and splatter them all over the walls like we’re in a Saw movie.

YOU

killed the purest, sweetest love Lelouch (YOUR ADORING BROTHER, WHO LOVES YOU [or so you think/fervently hope]) will ever have a chance at getting in this cold, cruel, twisted world we call the Code Geass reality.

YOU

for the sake of your own personal, homoerotic, incestual (????????????) feelings for Lelouch killed someone who actually had a chance of Lelouch loving because she was the only one who could possibly understand him.

YOU
KILLED

SHIRLEY

FENETTE

and therefore you must die before episode 25.

III. FIN

~fin~

PART THE SECOND: THE ACTUAL, SENSIBLE POST

Okay, so, I’m not really all that pissed. Well, I am, but that’s one thing and this is another. There have been Rumors afoot, or Whisperings, or something, to the effect that Code Geass R2 has lost it, or has otherwise somehow declined in quality since the first season.

THIS IS NOT TRUE.

Yes, it is, as otou-san is so fond of describing it, a “trainwreck“, but, according to ME, it’s not about watching the trainwreck of the series totally succumbing to such abstract concepts as “pandering” or “fanvervice” or “excessive use of Cheese-kun” (just so you know, that bit in episode 11 with C.C. reclining in underclothing and hugging Cheese-kun was pure awesome and I dare you to say otherwise), but, rather, about watching the trainwreck that is Lelouch’s life, as everything he’s done comes back to haunt him–as the narrator conveniently explained for the audience, “karma” is at work here.

One thing that Geass hasn’t done, though, is lost its writing ability–the first season was full of wonderfully pandering moments as well (such as the episode where Kallen and Euphemia are naked for 75% of the episode)–but on top of that, Geass has managed to deliver the goods when it needs to. In short, all the people stating that Geass is “pure entertainment” are 100% correct–Code Geass is, as far as I can tell, distilled, filtered, and purified Taniguchi Goro, left in an oak barrel to age for seven years. Yes, he has made some great masterpieces of anime that are Actually Good (Infinite Ryvius, PLANETES, Gasaraki if you count that), but we seem to have forgotten that he directed s-CRY-ed, which functions essentially like a proto-Geass, in the sense that it’s Goro cutting loose and going full throttle with the amps kicked up to 11. He’s a very good director, yes–but that’s because he’s very good at being both “serious” and “totally insane”, and this is why he is awesome. There are plenty of directors who are good at one or the other, but Goro is good at both, sometimes at the same time (see: PLANETES).

It’s way too early to call this, of course, but R2 12/13 shares almost the exact same setup as 21/22 from the first season. You know, Bloodstained Euphie and all that. That episode. As much as it pains me to have Shirley die that way, it’s completely understandable. Rolo is, of course, upset that Lelouch is spending time with Shirley (and not him, his beloved brother)–we saw this in 12 with a tiny and barely noticable moment of foreshadowing, when Lelouch talks about Shirley for a bit and Rolo makes a barely audible “Ehh?” Lelouch didn’t help matters, both through his manipulation of Rolo to get him on his side (which was strategically advantageous at the time, but isn’t now that Shirley is dead–not that he knows Rolo killed her) and his manipulation of Shirley as a result of Sayoko’s independent actions and back in s1 when Mao was giving Lelouch the run-around. And, of course, Lelouch’s manipulation of Shirley comes back to haunt him when her Geass is released by Jeremaiah (itself made ironic by Jeremaiah’s apparent motive in this episode, which wasn’t to kill Lelouch but merely have a chat with him, BUT we don’t know whether he’s manipulating Lelouch like Lelouch manipulates others AND I am getting a headache so I am ending this parentheses now), which direct her actions in 13, which lead directly to her running into Rolo, and then what she says to Rolo, which gets her killed.

The horror of it all, of course, is that none of these people are wrong at all in what they did when they did it–it’s just that all these things collided in the same space of 24 hours, leading to…this. And as pissy as I’m going to be now that Shirley is dead, as mentioned above, I respect the staff behind this series more now, because they are not afraid to Kill Their Babies, and even though I would like to drop a rock on the Sunrise building, I’m glad they did this, and I hope they don’t bring her back through some contrived medium (unless it’s to create even more crazy drama, of which I will wholeheartedly approve). And, besides, I don’t really hate them–as in the case of Itazura na Kiss, I was (figuratively) screaming and shouting and punching monitors in; in other words, my disbelief was completely suspended. And that’s what we’re supposed to feel when watching anime/reading a book/whatever, right? Even if on a more objective scale, Code Geass is a poorly-told story, who cares, beacuse it wasn’t trying to do that–it was trying to get me to shout at the TV. Which it did.

God, I love you, Taniguchi Goro, even if you are a bastard at the moment.

PART THE THIRD: IN MEMORIAM

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

(That is Latin for “DIE ROLO, YOU BASTARD”, as far as I can tell)

P.S.: Yes, it is my birthday today. Or, well, the day Code Geass R2 13 aired. Thanks for the wonderful present, Goro!

7/6/2008 NEVER FORGET

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Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~: Initial Impressions, or “Where Did This Budget Come From?”

The answer to the titular question is, of course, that they tapped Kobayashi Osamu (dear Japan: stop naming kids who go on to become important or at least recognizable figures in the anime industry “Osamu” as it’s getting confusing now). Of course, not having seen either Paradise Kiss or BECK, I did not know what exactly to expect when I fired up ~Natsu no Sora~. I expected something on the production levels of the previous series, which I quite liked, but couldn’t have been called “high budget” by a long shot. Maybe it’s just that HAL Film Maker is rich off the proceeds from Aria. Or something.

At any rate, I totally was unprepared for the background visuals, which knocked me for a loop. At first I was like “holy crap, where did this money come from?” and then I was like “wait, these look like photographs” and then I looked even harder and they weren’t photographs, but they were actual drawings. So I was pretty much in a state of confusion for the first half of this episode, trying to figure out what was going on with the backgrounds. But I know now!

The mobile/character art isn’t quite up to par with the backgrounds, lending a kind of strange dichotomy to the whole thing, but there’s nothing wrong with the character art or animation at all. In fact, it reminds me of watching various American cartoons growing up, especially Looney Tunes, where there was a very similar disjoint between the backdrop and the actual props–if something was going to be used as a prop in a take, it would be drawn in the much simpler style of the characters, but if it wasn’t going to be used as a prop, it was drawn in the much more complex style of the background. Which sometimes led to amusing moments like a prop drawn in the background style in one cut, and then in another cut it’d be used as a prop and would be drawn much simpler. I hadn’t seen this in a while, and I’m not sure if it’s an anime thing, or just an advancement in modern animation techniques. I suppose this is the difference in budget and time allotment between a 13-episode TV series and a feature-length Shinkai Makoto film, but given the extreme complexity of the backgrounds, I’m not going to fault them on this matter.

As for the actual episode itself: it was a prologue, so there’s not much to say other than “it was good.” Various elements of ~Natsu no Sora~ seem to have been improved over the original Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: the writing feels much better, for instance, in what little we’ve seen, and other small things. It also retains the feel the first season had, which I of course cannot put into words, because I don’t think there are words. I think it’s fairly safe to declare HAL Film Maker the champions of the slice-of-life/iyashi-kei anime genre at the moment, considering they have Aria, Sketchbook, and now ~Natsu no Sora~ under their belt. Can they be stopped? Do we want them to stop? I don’t know!


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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