Archive for August, 2008

Soul Eater: One Is The Loneliest Number (NUMBAAAH!)

Yes, I know that the next two lines of the song are “TWOOOOOOOOOOOOO can be as bad as one / It’s the loneliest number since the number one” which will completely go against what I liked about this episode but I didn’t want to drag a hokey old Toy Story reference out again and I couldn’t think of anything better that didn’t also involve Mortal Kombat and I really didn’t want to title it after Mortal Kombat so there.

Anyway, I watched Soul Eater 21 earlier today, and then almost immediately thereafter (I was still basking in the warm afterglow) had to rush to work early for crazed insanity (dear potential library patrons: if the library is closed for any reason, please do not put your books in the book drop, as you will most likely not be assessed a fine for a book due on a day a library is closed, expectedly or unexpectedly. Your librarians will thank you immensely. Also bring them homemade chocolate cake) for the next four hours, and, well, here I am, later on in the day, writing this post. Good thing I wanted to let 21 sink in me a bit before I wrote something about it, though!

I wasn’t actually going to write anything on Soul Eater until this under-Shibusen arc had concluded, but it’s gone on longer than I expected it to, so I decided to wait for the next major moment to come around before spilling my thoughts on it again. 21 was, uh, that moment.

I don’t think I’m being overly hyperbolic (for once! How dare I?) in stating that, thus far, 21 (and, for solidarity’s sake, 20 as an essential compaion piece) has probably been Soul Eater’s best episode to date. I was, of cousre, highly skeptical/cautious about the series at its onset. That initial skepticism has fallen away over the course of the series, which I’ve doggedly stuck to for reasons which shifted and morphed over time. I am glad I did, because, for one thing, I’ve discovered that the biggest hurdle for me to clear with these kinds of series (there isn’t a word I can use to describe them, really) seems to be the “set-up” phase, especially a series where everyone praises the series right out of the gate. Whatever the hook is that catches other people instantly takes a good deal more time to grab me in the same way, and sometimes it never really does. This, I think, leaves me with an alienated feeling for the early phases, where I feel less enthuastic about a series than other people around me (a feeling it seems I rarely feel), making me somewhat unwilling to go with the series until it catches me, which is when I see its appeal. It has happened a good number of times (Fullmetal Alchemist and Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann did it), so it’s not an insurmountable hurdle, but it can be a daunting and yet richly rewarding hurdle if cleared successfully.


PATTY IS MOTIVATING ME TO GET ON WITH IT, SO HERE’S SOME HOPEFULLY MORE-INSIGHTFUL-THAN-PLAIN-OLD-SUMMARY-BUT-POSSIBLY-NOT FOR YOU PATTY

20/21 seem to have been a sort of mid-series “culmination” of the resonance problems plaguing Maka and Soul. In 20, for instance, we see them resonating their soul’s wavelengths and actually using the Witchhunter effectively, even if it doesn’t actually accomplish anything. The end result is, of course, Maka discovering Soul’s special relationship with the devious jazz-loving imp in his head, and, essentially, asking him to give in to the temptation so that Maka can resonate with Krona’s soul and figure out what’s going on there. This, of course, results in Crazy As Hell Maka, which amused me greatly (I loved how even Krona looked terrified of her new-found insanity, especially when she tries to devour his head). Of course, even though Maka was quite insane on the inside, she was perfectly sane in the internal, soul-based world while questing for, and finding, Krona’s soul, and entering it.

Krona’s world is a giant desert where he stays alone and refuses to answer his own questions. Maka, of course, on a mission to free Krona of his own internal despair, comes in, breaks the circle he imprisons himself in to avoid the horrors of a world where no one cares about him, and then pops back out into the real world (courtesy of Soul, dragging her out of the abyss of insanity) where she completely ignores his rampaging berserker madness to simply hug him and point out that she cares. Cue tearful scene, cue altered ED sequence that drives me even closer to tears than it did before. I mean, seriously–that ED sequence was brilliant, and I almost cried, which I haven’t properly done to anime in a while. Even if the rest of this post is total bullshit, this isn’t.

I don’t know that the Krona thing needs much more highlighting–that part of 21 is effectively self-explanatory, or at least that summary above is self-explanatory, I think, and if it’s not, surely someone else has pointed it out better than I did! What does merit pointing out, though, is the odd nature of Soul and Maka’s relationship. Maka and Soul may, on the exterior, not really get along well, but 20/21 proved that, when the time is right, the two of them can cooperate (however grudgingly) and resonate just as clearly as everyone else can. Maka clearly trusts Soul with her own sanity, if she’s willing to command him to give in to temptation and send the two of them on the fast track to insanity. Soul doesn’t seem to believe her faith in him, but concedes and does an amazing job of not only holding back the waves of insanity , but also in breaking free of its bonds and pulling Maka back out of insanity. The two may have trouble getting along in daily life, to the point of yelling and book chopping, but there is a bond, and it’s there when the situation is dire enough. Amusingly, Soul, after a perfect moment of synchonization and mutual trust, starts to question Maka barely seconds later when she sets him aside to befriend Krona (and not in the Nanoha sense, which would have required Soul Eater anyway), but quickly realizes what she wanted to accomplish and relaxes. Whether or not they return to business as usual from here on out is a mystery, but I doubt their more casual relationship problems are solved, but, for the moment at least, they (and we) know that, in the thick of a terrible situation, they can count on each other, and that might make their everyday relationship a bit better.

And, if not, well, Maka can just elope with Krona and suck on his head some more. Soul can get with Blair and everyone will be happily ever after

Advertisements

Xam’d: Lost Memories: More Like Lost Lovers

I actually watched Xam’d 7 last night, and then got lazy, and then stayed lazy all day.

Actually, I’m pretty sure what I noticed in 7 has probably already been noticed by those more observant than me, but I’m somewhat intrigued by what’s going on in this regard (because I am, after all, a sappy sentimentalist living vicariously through the romantic relationships of fictional characters, but that’s my prerogative and not yours), and also because it adds in a different layer to what I talked about earlier (the chaotic nature of Xam’d). This is, of course, the long distance relationship of Akiyuki and Haru.

It’s obvious back to the first episode that, under normal circumstances, both had a thing for the other. It was a fairly key moment in Haru’s early development (chasing after Akiyuki while he was berserk under the influence of Xam’d) and in Akiyuki’s (insisting that Akushiba run like the wind to deliver his personal letter to Haru explaining that he was, in fact, alive), but I only just now seemed to latch onto its significance. In a world essentialy gone chaotic (which the world in Xam’d has done, even if the series itself wasn’t mirroring that chaos), the two of them hold on to each other as a kind of grounding point in the chaotic nature of war. With whoever they’re warring with. I’m not sure anyone knows that, even the military leaders.

More importantly, as Akiyuki longs to talk to and be with Haru again, Haru, herself, is trying her hardest to get back in contact with him–by joining the military, allowing her to leave the island and search for him. It’s possible she could have just played the waiting game and waited patiently for Akiyuki to return, but instead she actively pursues him. We already know she’s quite handy in a fight, but she became determined to join the military after she learned he was safe. While Haru serves as a base for Akiyuki to ground himself in while traveling with Benika’s mailmen/warriors, Haru instead uses Akiyuki as an excuse to move forward. Akiyuki, forced into an unfamillar situation, wants things to return to normal as soon as possible; by contrast, Haru is actively pursuing the unfamiliar in order to get back the familiar. They both remain grounded in each other, but take drastically different approaches to the same grounding.

On top of grounding the characters themselves, it also offers an anchor point for the viewer: we may not exactly know what is going on, but those among us who are sympathetic to the characters themselves will find plenty to comprehend and enough to ground them in the series while the rest of the situation fits itself around the characters. With each episode, we discover a bit more about the world and its mythology, but we also discover a bit more about the characters: Haru crying when she notices the escaped Xam’d is “pregnant” and insisting that it’s not an enemy to Furuichi, Akiyuki killing a Humanform Weapon against Nakiami’s orders not to, since she wants to preserve the human life within. Both serve to illuminate both the world and the characters themselves, without forcing the hand too much.

I’d almost say that, more than the crazy action and the fighting against Humanform Weapons and whatever else is going on with conspiracies a-flying and general, uh, chaos (is someone keeping a running tally of the number of times I say “chaos” in relation to Xam’d? You might want to, I’m far too lazy to do so), what Xam’d will actually be about for the characters isn’t so much the resolution of the war so much as staying grounded in reality, in something solid and affirmable amidst the increasing entropy. The best way to do that (and what most soldiers sent away to war tend to do) is simply to ground oneself in love and affection–for a significant other, family in genral, or that pet dog you really love. As the world goes to hell, what matters to people is what they formerly took for granted: human relationships.

I’m entirely unsure how far this line of thought will be pursued, but it is delicious nonetheless. Knowing BONES, this group of individuals in particular within BONES, and the general pattern of modern anime (or even anime in general), relationships will probably play a fairly major part over the course of Xam’d.

Or, uh, they’ll all just shut up and explode, for the BAD END. If so, pre-emptive Haru ;___________;

Antique Bakery: The Things I Do (And Enjoy) For Cake


When they finally did a shot that consisted entirely of girls, I knew, deep in my misandrist heart, that it was time to make an Antique Bakery post.

So I picked up Antique Bakery when it started airing, because I’d promised myself that I’d watch it, out of both a sense of duty and fairness (if I like girls gazing deeply into each others eyes so much, it’s not fair to deny the boys the opportunity to gaze deeply into each other’s eyes), and because I really just wanted to see what was up with a vaguely shounen-ai manga that won the Kodansha. I expected it to be somewhat of an exercise in passive, neutral appreciation of something that, while I may not have been able to get fully behind it the way I would, say, Itazura na Kiss, I would still retain an intellectual appreciation of the series on an abstract level.

I most definitely did not expect to enjoy it quite as much as I have.

As has been pointed out by the astute female bloggers usagijen and issa-sa, Antique Bakery isn’t really a shounen-ai/boys’ love series so much as it is a fairly straightforward shoujo [there’s a word here for what kind of series Antique Bakery is, but I really don’t know what, exactly, that word is] series with a brush of light shounen-ai elements, because Yoshinaga Fumi loves baiting her audience with such teasing moments. And, although I am decidedly not gay (not 100% straight, of course, because no one is 100% straight, but I’m definitely very firmly in the “straight” zone) I find myself quite enjoying these moments of BL baiting. It’s almost the same kind of feeling I get when watching an Itazura na Kiss episode, except reduced dramatically in intensity (but, seriously, I don’t think I’ve watched anything that comes close to how I fee when I watch Itakiss–not even the first nine episodes of Kaiji) and perhaps more bemused than I would be watching a similar scene in Itakiss, but that’s far from an insult against the series. I mean, really–when you have almost ludicrously sombre pipe organ music playing over the dancing-in-the-rain scene with Chikage and Ono, I think even a hardcore shounen-ai/yaoi fan would be cracking a smile, at least inwardly, so I can hardly be faulted for snickering. It’s complimentary snickering, though, so don’t get me wrong there.

The actual series itself, leaving out the BL elements as much as you can, is actually quite good, even if I’m not quite able to remember what, exactly, is going on. Not a whole lot has really happened–it’s vaguely slice-of-life in that respect, to abuse that term even more–but it’s quite enjoyable nonetheless. The main four characters–Tachibana, Chikage, Ono, and EIji–are all extremely likable (much as the Ouran High School Host Club main male ensemble was likable), play off each other to comedic effect well, and, in general, are well-crafted characters. I actually find myself rooting for Ono and Chikage, for whatever unfathomable reason that may be. Possibly I’m losing my mind, or, at least, my testosterone is leaking. Or just plain defective.

For a series that I picked up more out of quasi-intellectual curiosity rather than active pre-airing interest and self-hype, I’m actually surprised by how much I’m entertained by Antique Bakery, doubly so by the very elements that I thought would most alienate me. I highly doubt I’ll win over any more skeptical viewers to it with this post, but as I’m pretty sure I’m the only (or at least one of the few) straight males with a positive opinion on this series, I figured someone had to stand up for those of us with broken chromosomes. My license to be a male is probably being revoked even as I write these words. And I may be watching Antique Bakery slow, but I’m watching most everything slow right now.

(P.S.: I know I’ve done a bit more “general review”-type posts than the usual [whatever the usual actually is] in the past week or so, but part of that is that series such as Code Geass R2 and Macross Frontier are winding to their conclusions and I’m kind of waiting for either the ending, or a decisive moment, or [this is the major reason] the time to sit down, watch the episodes, and generate a post on it. The other part of it is that I’ve been wanting to give series I’ve neglected over the past few months some much-deserved attention. The other, other part of it is that I am lazy. It doesn’t help that classes start tomorrow for me, either.

apologies must be given I am shameful please berate me with words violently -_-;;;;;;;;;;;;)

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: Is it Bodyswapping? Is it Split Personality?

Better question: Do we care?

More important question: Why aren’t you watching this?

So I’ve watched seven episodes of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode (also known as Birdy the Mighty Decode) without any prior experience with the original OVA series (a two-episode deal based on a prototype of the Tetsuwan Birdy story that later became a full manga that Decode is based on), and it’s been surprisingly enjoyable. I still kind of waffle back and forth on it, depending on the episode (the two-episode Alturia arc, for instance, was extremely bizarre for me, despite Wakamoto Norio giving his best James Earl Jones impersonation as a giant anthropomorphic lizard with a mask [that was the best part of the whole “arc” and Lizard-Norio needed to show up more]), but overall it’s incredibly entertaining, even if it is somewhat on the fluffy side. But fluff never bothered me much. Especially not when it’s fluff authored by one of the minds behind semi-underground hit Mobile Police Patlabor: Yuuki Masami.

The whole premise of Tetsuwan Birdy is fairly simple: boy, Tsutomu, accidently stumbles into a dilapidated building where alien crime boss Geega is doing Evil Things and alien investigator Birdy is trying to stop him: Long story short: Birdy, living up to the English title of “Birdy the Mighty”, tries to punch Geega with her blazing fist of fury and instead hits (and kills) Tsutomu, and the audience has Minky Momo flashbacks Birdy is left with no choice but to merge Tsutomu’s consciousness with her own, while his body is shipped back to Alturia to be reconstituted for his consciousness to re-enter. I love alien technology.

Of course, Tsutomu is carrying on a totally normal school life (he even has a girl he likes!: Nakasugi Sayaka), but Birdy also can’t let her investigation slide, as Geega is involved in a massive plot involving the Riunka, or “invisible death”, which, basically, is a weapon capable of destroying all life on Earth. However, nothing is as it seems (this is anime, okay?) and there are some rather inventive plot twists thrown in, and things don’t always seem to progress the way you’d expect them to.

In fact, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode is one of those series that interweaves several interconnected plot threads (there’s what’s going on with Birdy, there’s the Riuvia conspiracy from the point of view of the perpertrators, and then there’s the reporter chasing after Birdy in an attempt to get under mysterious goings-on in the city) that all happen to crop up at the least convinent moment for various characters. In episode seven, for instance, Birdy is investigating a string of murders connected to the Riuvia when she’s spotted by the journalist after her, and must escape by turning into Tsutomu in a private moment–which, of course, is noticed by the gosurori robotic mannequin of one of the conspirators. It’s moments of “oh, shit” plotting like that that keeps me coming back to Tetsuwan Birdy Decode for more, much more than the fact that Birdy’s super-armor doesn’t even cover half of her body (it’s a seriously hot piece of armor, but I seriously doubt its practicality, but I assume that its lack of practicality is explained away by the magic words Alien Technology).

It also doesn’t hurt that Tsutomu and Birdy have good chemistry as co-body-inhabitors, and both are likable–Tsutomu isn’t a passive, useless male lead (or, at least, not as bas as he could be), and Birdy, well, Birdy can punch cracks in concrete at point-blank, and frequently does. Because she’s Birdy. The, uh, Mighty.

There’s actually some interesting things working underneath the surface, especially pertaining to certain spoilers revolving around Naksugi Sayaka (who, despite, or because of, the nature of the spoilers involving her, is moe as hell), but in the interest of not ruining the series for you (since I presume some haven’t seen this series yet, and am trying to  sell it to you. Badly, yes, but sell it nonetheless) I will likely just save for after the series ends, if it’s still there.

And, if not, well, the series will still probably hold on me better than Birdy can hold her alcohol. (This scene should have devolved into naughty and possibly naked lesbian moments with Tsutomu’s sister for extra psuedo-incest points, but, alas, it’s not that fanservice-y of a show)

All in all, though, it’s a series I passed off initially as sort-of dull, but it’s grown on me, to the point that I’m thinking about checking out the original OVA, just to see where the differences are. Although I must say, Decode Birdy > Original Birdy. But that’s just an art aesthetic thing.

And, yes, there is going to be a season 2. I don’t know how that will work, but there’s at least 17 volumes of manga to pull from, so it’s all good.

Xam’d: Lost Memories: I Still Don’t Know What’s Going On Here

But I’m pretty sure that’s the point of it all, and I care less as time goes on.

Considering how precious little we actually know about the world Xam’d takes place in, and the fact that we’ve essentially been dropped into the middle of a story, in the thick of the action, without any real exposition given to us to explain what, exactly, is going on, the series is still somehow utterly compelling and addictive to watch. I’m mostly going to chalk it up to the writers, who are, essentially, sitting behind the TV screen with a full deck of cards, in sequential order, explaining what’s going on in Xam’d in elaborate detail, and are presenting the viewer with a card, seemingly drawn randomly from their deck, at erratic intervals.

The way they’re handling it actually seems to contribute to the enjoyment of the series. I was slightly skeptical of the series upon seeing the very first, very short trailer released for the series, which was essentially a montage of random chaos set to really cool chaotic music. The more I watch, though, the more impressed I am. Chaos seems to be the order of the day, as expressed in the preview trailer and also in the fantastic OP, “SHUT UP AND EXPLODE” by the BOOM BOOM SATELLITES. When I checked the ANN page before watching the first episode I saw the name of the OP song and said “Oh, man, if that song is half as awesome as the band name and title make it out to be…” And, well, it was. It almost perfectly captures (along with the OP animation itself) the essence of the series, both musically and through its title. It’s a fairly chaotic song–but, like Xam’d itself, it’s not chaos without order.

The appeal comes from the fact that Xam’d, to me, seems like organized chaos. Everything feels like you don’t really know what’s going on–you’re given just enough to be able to appreciate, but there’s that ever-present “I need to know more” urge prompted by the writers’ haphazard card-tossing. Other series create the “I need to know more” feeling, of course–Urasawa Naoki creates entire series based around his readers dying to know more–but few seem to be able to do it in quite the way Xam’d is. I’ve seen six episodes, and the more I watch, it seems, the less I actually understand–yet, also, the less I understand, the less I actually seem to care that I don’t understand. Xam’d is on a 26 episode rip-rolling jet ride and you’re strapped to the back of the jet via a rope, and the jet is going at Mach 3.

The feeling of watching Xam’d (or, at least, my feeling watching Xam’d) might be hard to put in words, but there is one thing I can say: I can’t stop watching. I want to keep watching. If you ask me, this should have been BONES’ 10th anniversary series, and not Soul Eater. Nothing wrong with Soul Eater, mind–I still like it—but Xam’d feels much more like an anniversary show with all the stops pulled out.

And, of course, topping off the appeal of all the organized chaos is the very simple and easy-to-understand appeal of  Haru Nishimura:

She is going to kick some rogue Humanform Weapon posterior next week. I will be in bliss.

Taishou Yakyuu Musume Baseless Anticipation Post

So, after reading that Taishou Yakyuu Musume (which, by the way, I had not heard about prior to this point) is getting an anime adaptation, I became instantly overwhelmed with completely, utterly baseless and unjustified hype for it. Let me break it down for you:

Taishou (大正): Historical fiction! My history major blood is a-boil with the thought of a fictionalized peek into the origins of baseball on the Japanese islands, since the series takes place in 1925.

Yakyuu (野球): Baseball! I am still not a terribly huge sports fan of any kind, but baseball has always held a special kind of charm with me. Probably because I played it (badly) as a child. I’m good at hitting actual baseballs, still, kind of, but WiiSports Baseball totally screws with my head. The only kind of anime that could get me any more excited would be bowling anime. I’m not even sure that exists. It needs to.

Musume (娘): Girls! This one should be self-explanatory, although I’m hoping more for something more like Princess Nine than some kind of weird anime version of A League of Their Own. I’d be happy with Ookiku Furikabutte except with girls, though.

Speaking of musume, the designs are pretty cute, which both pleases and worries me. The series could go either way, given what little we know about it in the West (and even the Japanese web doesn’t seem to have a great deal of information upon casual investigation), but from reading the two positive reviews of the series on amazon.co.jp, I’m fairly certain it will be at least a decent, if not downright amazing, non-excessively-pandering look at the rise of baseball in Japan. Besides, Japan’s starting to pull away from series that pander and don’t really do much of anything else–even Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, the obligatory panderfest of the season (aside from the new Zero no Tsukaima), is trying. Failing, but trying! I think they’ve finally hit the point where they’ve realized they need some weight behind the cute girls to actually get an audience these days.

At any rate, this news excited me far more than the announcement of a second FMA TV series did. Even though I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about the title at all.

And, hey, this kind of totally baseless anticipation worked for me with Toshokan Sensou, so why shouldn’t it work for Taishou Yakyuu Musume? Worst comes to worst, I can just go visit Mudville.

The Ending I Want for Code Geass, Which is Not SDS’s Ending At All

I am in full support of SDS’s fervent wishes and hopes for the resolution of Code Geass R2, but, sadly, despite the fact that Odysseus u Britannia is a manly man (for only a true manly man would unhesitatingly agree to a marraige between a 30-something male and a twelve-year-old) who most certainly would enjoy the finer pleasures of hot cocoa and a rousing game of Parcheesi (or maybe backgammon, or cribbage, or, heaven forfend, pinochle), perhaps followed by some interesting discussion on the finer points of silverware, over getting it on with his lawfully wedded underage imperial puppet, it will probably not happen.

As wonderful as it may be to see Odysseus take his rightful place on the throne of Britannia (it would certainly be a better thing for the Code Geass world, or at least for Parcheesi lovers in the Code Geass world), that, sadly, does not seem to fit in the wild, wacky, frequently nonsensical, and oftentimes deliciously illogical world of Code Geass.

This, however, will fit in quite nicely with the rest of the series:

THAT’S RIGHT.

ZOMBIE SHIRLEY FENETTE.

See, she kills Charles di Britannia after he kills Lelouch, because there’s no way Shirley would actually be able to do anything bad to her beloved Lelou, but if he were conveniently killed just as she stumbled out of her grave (Charles and Lelouch were fighting over Shirley’s grave, which, of course, was transported via helicopter to that ominous island at the end of episode 19 before their final duel so that, should he lose, Lelouch would be able to rest next to his one true love, Shirley, and they would be able to rest in peace together as they never could in life. A noble goal indeed, if you ask me) then she would most certainly be quite upset indeed at whoever did the killing, and, being a zombie, she could most easily overpower anything Charles could throw at her because, well, she’s a zombie. Charles is immortal, but Shirley is the living dead. Key difference there.

After killing Charles, of course, she eats his brain (well, she is a zombie) and inherits the right to rule Britannia, which instantly makes everyone in the world capitulate to her banner, making  her the de facto ruler of the world. She then proceeds to…do nothing, because that’s what she’s always done, and been loved for it,  but that’s okay, because after she ascends to the throne the world is in permanent peace for the rest of eternity. Everyone eats pizza.

~fin~

~applause~

~sentimental yet instantly forgettable pop song that vaguely has something to do with Code Geass~

~parade of cute chibi renditions of all the characters~

~a giant placard reading TO BE CONTINUED…???~

Mark my words. I can read Taniguchi Goro’s mind from across the ocean. And I’ve never been wrong.


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.

RSS Recent Songs

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

A Twitter feed, as stipulated in Blogger Law Code Title 10 §135.41(b)

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects

Pages

August 2008
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031