Archive for October, 2008

Toradora!: In Which I Am Reduced to a Bucket of Pudding

What I wouldn’t give to be that bucket of pudding. I hope it’s free of high-fructose corn syrup, though…

I have just watched Toradora! 4, and it was glorious and awesome and pudding. As a side note, it’s probably best to mention that I’m watching the series raw, explicitly on purpose, for listening practice, something which I do not normally do. It’s fairly easy for me to understand at my level of comprehension, whatever that level may be, so if something weird comes up, it might be that, although I try to make sure I’ve gotten the mportant stuff down right.

At this point, I no longer particuarily care how “accurate” the anime is in comparison to the Takemiya Yuyuko novels. The anime might be different, but that doesn’t make it worse. In fact, it might make it better–yes, I quite like books, and, yes, I quite liked the novel, but the anime seems so much more lively than the novel. It’s partly because it’s a filmed medium–visuals, voice, and music combine to form an experience that is more engrossing than a textual one–but also partly because of the exuberance the anime oozes. I did like the novel, but it wasn’t exactly exuberant (in the way the anime is) in the way I generally recognize exuberance in textual form, which is entirely my fault for a) being a native English speaker and reader and also for finding P.G. Wodehouse hilarious b) not reading the novels in their native Japanese, since the page or so I did read (“read”) in Japanese had a certain exuberance in the language that might not carry over in translation well (or, at least, the translation I read) and c) perhaps I just forgot since it’s been months since I did.

I think it’s this exuberance that’s winning over fans from places it might not have won fans over from, especially from those predisposed against the series due to Kugimiya Rie’s casting as Taiga. The very story about why I elected to watch the series raw demonstrates this effectively, I think: my intention was to get the raw of the first episode and skim through it to get a glimpse of the series in action. I started off intending to skip through large portions of the episode, but I never actually skipped parts of the episode because I found myself mysteriously engrossed in what was going on. In short, my Toradora! watching experiences thus far have resembled this:

except I’m not a cute girl (OR AM I?).

It’s that very exuberance and forthrightness on the part of all the staff involved. The main cast does a spectacular job on everything: Kugyu as Taiga is astounding, Horie Yui turns in an amazing performance as the delightfully loopy Minorin, and Majima Junji is probably doing the performance of his career thus far right now. The animators’ choice of a bright, vivid palette, and the near-constant motion contribute a great deal to this feeling; so, too, does the overall direction and writing, which guide all the previous elements into the completed product that is Toradora!

I think it’s this very feeling of exuberance–of giving everything your 110%–that contributes to the observation cuchlann made about episode 3: the show has the uncanny ability to make you forget (or, at least, not really care) that you’re in the middle of a “cliche.” Cliches exist because they’ve withstood the test of time, and they work, and the difference between “hackneyed” and “originality” tends to be less how few cliches one uses, but ratherhow one uses said cliches. The writing of Toradora! itself can deftly dodge cliches, as I learned from reading the novels, but the penchant of the animation staff to revel in (rather than restrain) the almost over-the-top mechanics of Toradora! means that the series’ true power is able to shine through.

The sad reality of Toradora!’s excellence is that I’m now left with a horrible, horrlble problem: a resounding affection for Taiga, because how can one not like Taiga at this point (that’s rhetorical, don’t answer that), and a bad case of Minorin love, because she’s the exact kind of the excessively-genki type of girl who reduces me to a quivering blob of pudding. In a bucket. Being consuimed by Minorin herself.

I am conflicted and torn. I just hope it doesn’t end up becoming some kind of crazy wacky Civil War, except Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant are actually cute girls.

I need a hug. And an お~は~ or something. Please?

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Setsuna F. Seiei, Ph. D (peace studies, piloting giant robots)

Setsuna, apparently, has the uncanny ability to channel Socrates or Plato or Aristotle or Zeno or Archimedes or Epicurius or something from really old Greek times, because, man, is he waxing philosophical here. Or at least reciting truisms. Or something. Also I like Greek names and words, because certain words have a disturbing tendency to look like romanized Japanese, wreaking havoc with my mind when I’m in some crazy religion class (of which I have taken far too many).

The statement that goes with the above picture, “Are you okay with being the only one at peace?” highlights, or at least made me think far too hard, one of the great problems that seems to be part of human conflict and the lack thereof: how absolutely and interminably difficult it is to acheive peace without sacrificing other people’s peace (temporarily or permanently) in the process. Indeed, it may be impossible to actually acheive an ideal peace where everyone is at ease and peaceful, since someone’s idea of peace can differ wildly from other people’s. It’s a horrendously complicated issue evidenced through the fact that it’s almost impossible for me to even start addressing the issue, but the message carried from Setsuna to Saji is quite clear: if peace is to be acheived, then sacrifice must be made. Saji’s perspective seems selfish and naive by comparison, in the sense that his own personal peace was disrupted (and continues to be disrupted) for the sake of Celestial Being’s greater mission, even if it was a certain charmingly crazy member of Team Trinity who started the whole problem, and not Setsuna. By the same token, however, one could argue that Setsuna’s postion–that in order to acheive peace, peace must be sacrificed–seems, well, foolish and naive at best, for how can it be “peace” when there’s people who are resentful of the manner by which peace was acheived? Still, however, if there is a way to peace, it is only by the sacrifice of personal peace, on some level, be it restricted to a small group of people dedicated to preseving said peace, or be it a global removal of personal peace in favor of interpersonal peace.

Clearly the preceding paragraph, in its entirety, is what was running through Saji’s head for the two seconds of shocked reaction pictured here. You can tell from his expression that the full philosophical weight has fallen upon him, a veritable piano of enlightenment, with the discordant sound of truth as accompaniment.

On a less, uh, philosophical note, the actual plot of Gundam 00 (part the Second) seems to be slotting into place nicely. Feldt-tan still has her lovable habit of saying, alternately, “Lockon Stratos…” or “Lyle Dylandy….” or “Haro….” and not much else in a poignant scene of silence that makes me love her even more. That and her happy face when Sumeragi consented to drawing up tactical plans. I also quite liked the deepening of the relationship between Soma and Alleujah. We’d known the two were connected, emotionally, true; but now we’re getting added dimensions to Soma’s character as she becomes the one who gets to flip out when confronted with Allelujah, instead of the other way around. We’re still in the setup phase of the second half of the series, a lamentable problem of the split-season concept, but given the time skip, it’s to be expected, and it’s working well. They’re also setting up to spend much more time this season going in-depth into the myriad characters, a prospect which I (and, I somewhat suspect, only I) relish indeed.

Or maybe I’m just an intractable fanboy trying to justify my bounciness through the careful, applied use of calm words and rational discourse. All I know is, I’m probably going to be even more upset when the second season is over than when the first one was, but at least we’ll have a conclusion. Unless there’s a green light lit for a third season…

Tytania: The Taste of Defeat is…COFFEE

And the visage of victory is drunk, apparently. Or just delusional. This being Tytania, though, I’ll wager both.

It’s been a while since I last touched an episode of Legend of Galactic Heroes (I’ve left off somewhere in the 70s at least a year and a half ago and will be forced to go back to the 50s to restart the current arc because there’s no way in hell I’ll be able to remember all that happened), so I had been missing the spectacle of giant space fleet combat. I was most pleased to see LoGH-style spacecraft rendered with modern-day production values, and equally impressed by the same overly elaborate retro-futuristic spacecraft bridge design as from The Animanachronism was. I wager that Tytania has much, much better scenes in this regard than LoGH did, if only because LoGH had the (lamentable) self-control to keep the Prussian opulence and extravagant tea pouring (the best part was when he issued a command to purchase the entire planet the tea came from after one small, hesitant sip) off the bridge.

LoGH also had the self-control to not have Oberstein jab a sword through spaceships in a highly symbolic moment in the OP. That has to be the best part of the OP. No, really.

Even more fun, our intrepid not-really-a-hero hero this time around is almost the diametric opposite of the cool, calm, and collected Yang Wenli: Fan Hyulick. For one, his name is infinitely sillier (this is a pro); for two, whereas Yang was quiet and reserved and very much an intellectual (he just wanted to be a history professor :( ), Fan is boisterous, bawdy, and seemingly a dolt. The mood is very much set through the overexaggerated opulence and evilness of the Tytania clan that Tytania as a series will probably be much lighter in mood than Legend of Galactic Heroes (which, itself, was played with the same straight-faced-ness, it was just less ludicrously amusing in the way Tytania seems to be) even if it goes on to address important issues in galactic politics.

It’s hard to tell at this point exactly how Tytania will proceed, but at 26 episodes, it’ll be a much quicker watch than the infamously long Legend of Galactic Heroes. It’s sillier, yes–but I’m also finding it just as legitimately intriguing (to the extent one can be at two episodes) as LoGH was, it’s just amped up the space opera pulp-ish-ness factor to make it even more awesome. And, barring nothing else, Tytania will probably give me the impetus needed to join others in finally finishing Legend of Galactic Heroes. Has someone printed up a T-shirt that announces (in German, of course) that one has finished Heldensagen vom Kosmosinsel? If not, can someone do this? If not, can those people who were making custom Free Planets Alliance jackets make a lot more so I can pay $300 to look like Yang Wenli?

Kannagi: They’re Definitely Crazy, But They’re Definitely Amazing

It may just be me, but I’m inordinately pleased with Kannagi. I’ve no idea what the Takenashi Eri manga is like, having not read it, but it looks like I may just have to (in that nebulous point in the future known as “someday”) since the anime version is amazingly well-done. I talked a little bit about it in my previous post, but, for simplicity’s sake, the part I found most appealing about the first episode was the quaint charm of both the humor and the overall mood, a feeling continued into the second episode. It’s funny, yes, but neither is it forcing too much humor down the viewer’s throat, even when it’s being excessively silly. Apparently the pairing of Yamamoto Yutaka and reknowned (to me, anyway) Kamichu! co-creator Kurata Hideyuki is a highly effective one. Who knew?

Perhaps most interesting about episode two is that it throws a few curveballs that I didn’t expect–number one being that the kittens from early in the episode died by the end. I was all expecting a sorrowful, tearful apology from Jin and a heartwarming scene of feeding milk to cats (piano optional). Nope. Cats’re dead. Naturally, this is the instigator for Nagi marching off and trying to handle things on her own and steadfastly refusing to go back and rely upon Jin, which, indeed, she does not go back–it’s Jin who goes off after her. That may actually be expected, but at this point I no longer care, as it was well-executed, and–holy crap–started tugging at heartstrings! How dare my silly “wish-fulfillment magical girlfriend” series do that to me!

It’s a bit difficult at this point to qualify my particular developing fondness for Kannagi, partially because it’s only been two episodes, and partially because I’ve been up for 18 straight hours on five hours sleep. Is it a ground-breaking earth-shattering heavens-piercing epic masterpiece of an anime? Well, no, and it’s not likely to be–but why should it be all those italicized words? Isn’t something which sets a modest goal and acheives it as good as the ambitious series which also succeeds in its goals? Is something, merely by being unambitious, therefore reduced to the degrading moniker of “mediocrity” despite how well-crafted it may be? Are people even aware what the word “mediocre” means these days? Am I even aware of what the word “mediocre” means these days? Am I just some crazy loon trying desperately hard to justify my burgeoning fondness for Nagi (whomay or may not have a split personality and may or may not be telling the truth at any give point in time) by making overly short posts due to lack of sleep that possibly don’t say much of anything? Are any of these rhetorical questions even necessary? How many roads must a man walk down before one can call him a man?

I don’t know! Suffice it to say, Kannagi gets my vote for (currently) severely underrated series of the season. And I’ve always had a habit of unconsciously gravitating towards the less-well-known yet incredibly well-done anime (or, well, anything, really), so, likely, this is yet another example of such. I think, after Ookiku Furibakutte, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode, and now Kannagi, I’m starting to develop a peculiar fondness for A-1 Pictures. That could just be me, though.

A Quick Conglomerate Update

Since I haven’t had a chance to do so all week due to either being horribly busy or horribly sick*. Or, on Friday, both. So here’s a (highly hasty) rundown of what I might have said, if I had had the energy or time to do so. Which I didn’t.


Despite any naysaying, I maintain that the Toradora! adaptation is quite good–yes, they may have crammed the first novel into two episodes, but quite a lot of the first novel was either descriptions of actions taken by characters, or descriptions of emotions and such, so, even if they were to stretch things out a bit, it’d still have only filled another half and episode or so. More importantly to me, however, changes made have only accentuated the Toradora! experience, as my much beloved lamppost scene (complete with affront to community values) was handled quite effectively. The series definitely has a certain kind of energy and vigor to it, different from the sort of feel I got from the novel (that may have been the effect of the background music I was listening to as I read the novel, though) but not necessarily one that is bad. In fact, the vigor of the earlier moments where Taiga and Ryuuji are being played for laughs only accentuated the melancholy, emotional mood of lamppost angst and later moments of the episode. The balance, at least so far, has been struck extremely well, and flows effectively from mood to mood without feeling jarring. I’ve faith in Okada Mari and Nagai Tatsuya, and they’re living up to it so far.


I had the chance while sick and miserable and alternately freezing and burning up on Tuesday to catch the first episode of Kannagi, a series which I didn’t expect much going into but found myself highly amused and entertained by a surprisingly solid comedy. It’s directed by the infamously fired Lucky Star 1-4 director, Yamamoto Yutaka, whom I never really had a problem with, and it’s obvious that he’s got his sense of comic timing down right. The whole first episode had a quaintly amusing charm to it that I found much more to my (admittedly hyper-refined) comedic palate than Kemeko DX, which was extremely Mizushima Tsutomu from start to finish (and I’ve still no idea how this Mizushima Tsutomu is the same Mizushima Tsutomu who directed Ookiku Furikabutte and XXXHolic). Nagi is horribly cute (and much more effective for me than that other Nagi from a comedy series, may Kugyu have mercy upon me…) and played perfectly by Tomatsu Haruka. There’s also great comedic chemistry between Nagi and Jin (and Jin’s voice actor, Shimono Hiro, who has a great voice for these kinds of comedy roles), and the whole thing is rather well-done. Color me impressed (which can be both an easy and a hard thing to do, apparently)

HIgurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai

It’s only been, what, a year since the series finished airing? Kai somehow got lost in the shuffle (this happens fairly frequently, unfortunately, even to things I quite like) and, since I’m getting geared up to watch Umineko na Naku Koro ni whenever that airs (I was under the impression it was starting soon, hence my sudden, hasty decision to plow through Kai. It, of course, isn’t starting soon at all) and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed Higurashi. Granted, there’s a lot more of the “silliness” in Kai than there was in the first season (possibly due to the longer run time Studio DEEN was able to give the arcs), but the silly parts are still amusing, and the deadly serious mystery/horror parts are still pretty darn chilling. I liked Higurashi more for the psychological horror aspect (the Distinction scene from the first season is one of the most terrifying things I’ve seen, and I had to purposely not pay much attention to the episode during some of it, even though it’s not really all that gruesome), but the balance struck between “taking it home” and the nervous breakdowns of various characters makes for a fun combination. I’ve made it through the second arc, “みんな殺し変”, and now I want to do very bad and very violent things to Takano, and, I’m sure, so does most of the cast. I’ve no clue where Hanyuu came from, but I approve of Horie Yui no matter what, and Hanyuu is pretty cute anyway, and the episode previews are a delight. Does it have problems? Yeah, but so did Higurashi, and I don’t particularly care, so there.

And that is pretty much that. I hope I have time this week to do something not-important-to-living.

* Some kind of nasty 24-hour stomach bug thing, followed in close succession by a horrible cold brought on, no doubt, by the hilariously malfunctioning thermostat in this house. It’s like the time I spent in the horrible dorms on campus, where I couldn’t figure out if the giant air unit in the side was actually supposed to give out heat, or if Housing & Maintainance expected me to slowly freeze to death. No wonder 2002/03 sucked.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Welcome (back) To This Crazy Time


Or, uh, maybe not…

At any rate, despite being an extended 24-minute cameo sequence with explosions an episode focuing on what will probably be a series-long conflict between Setsuna and Saji (opening joke aside, I quite respect his emotional outburst and the subsequent aftermath of it. He’s had a harsh life up to this point) with brief cameos of other major characters there to set the stage and create palpable excitement for the second and final installment in the Gundam 00 saga. First, the cameos:

  • Soma and Sergei are living together? What kind of insanity is this? Soma is still a bundle of cute (doubly so now that Sunrise’s sinister plot has been revealed), but is this an assertion that Sergei is actually a dirty old man? Pretty good job, however, bagging a cute girl like Soma with a scar like that, though, so he wins.

    (yes, I know he’s probably just her protective, legal ward. Just like Julian was Yang Wenli’s “protective, legal ward”. Keep the snickering to yourself, ‘kay?)

  • I don’t know if I just missed Graham’s mask in the ending of Gundam 00 Part the First or if I’d forgotten it, but I still had a moment of both unintended hilarity and overwhemling manliness. Graham is probably the only person who could wear a mask like that and still be a manly man.
  • Billy and Sumeragi living together (or at least sharing a bed)? I saw it coming, but…
  • Ribbons, you bastard. You and your corruptive, manipulative ways, luring Wang Liu Min into your clutches.

    (she was evil before, yes, but she was hot evil. Speaking of, there’s someone noticably missing at the moment. I wonder who it could be…)

  • Felt will have very un-feminine thoughts when Neil Lyle Dylandy struts onto the bridge, according to the episode preview. I miss her poufy twintails, though, but she is still the Felt we all know and love. Complete with Haro.

More important, I think, was the establishment of conflict between Setsuna, the strict devotee of Celestial Being’s policy of armed interventions as a means of bringing about world peace forcibly, and Saji, whose life has been so affected by Celestial Being’s methods of bringing about world peace that he’s now on the complete opposite side, refusing to even shoot Setsuna because that would make him exactly like them: killing to save lives. I don’t think Mizushima is planning on pulling any punches in the philosophical war of how to end physical war. If it can even happen. Apparently, even though Earth united at the end of the first season, now we’ve got war in space with colonies, a much more familiar setting for a Gundam series, yet somehow having the backdrop for how Earth unified has the potential to make the subsequent colony/Earth war much more interesting. On the other, the terrestrial nature of the first season might be gone, but I don’t think the addressment of real-world issues will be gone.

In short, uh, I’m strangely estatic and happy and overjoiyed and ready to spend the next half a year finding out what goes on in 00 this time. In light of recent events, I’d been a bit worried about what’d happen when Gundam 00 started back up, but such worries have faded for now. Or else the Gundam 00 fanboy in me has just kicked into full gear again, ready to obsessively dissect and analyze the series again, for little reason.

Here’s to hoping that the drama will be contained in weekly 24-minute chunks and not a constant six-month battle. That’s almost as bad as the current election season!

Tetsuwan Birdy Decode: Philosophical Musings on Shared Mentalspace

Well, okay, I’m probably lying about the “philosophical musings” part, and at any rate “philosophical” is a horribly overused term at times, which means that it effectively has been ascribed a truth value of zero, so I guess I’ll just call it what it is, or will be, which is ‘rambling nonsense” and leave it at that.

Also this post has spoilers, so you are warned!

So I’ve just finished Tetsuwan Birdy Decode, a series I went into with little to no expectations (and, honestly, in a niggling corner of my mind, expecting to dislike it, based on the totally inexplicable and frequently broken rule that “anime popular in the United States, in the 90s, from the 90s, I usually don’t like”, even though Tetsuwan Birdy Decode itself is from the 2000s so there goes that theory), and yet came out fairly impressed. Is it a spectacular series? Well, no, because if spectacular series were commonplace, the world “spectacular” and similar hyperbole-conducive words would become worthless.

Lack of spectacularity, however, doesn’t imply a lack of quality. One thing I noticed while watching the series was that it continually defied my expectations of where the story was going to go. Based on the first two episodes, I’d assumed that the series was going to be a kind of cop-and-robber (cop-and-evil-alien-genocidal-psychopath, rather) series, but then it shifted and became something slightly more complex, by killing off the characters who’d I’d assumed would be around harassing Birdy for a while in episodes 2 and 3, along with the untimely destruction of effeminent robotic “buddy” Tute. Then it spends a lot of time focusing on the relationship between Sayaka and Tsutomu, and then starts killing more people as Sayaka is revealed to be the host to the evil world-destroying Ryunka, leading to a battle of will between Birdy (and Tsutomu) and the ominous and clearly evil C.E.O. of mysterious origin Satyajit Shyamalan (and, with a name like that, you  can expect that there’s a few plot twists involving him too). All that and an ending that isn’t quite what you’d expect. I did guess the method of capturing the Ryunka (about five minutes before it happened, and it was one of those guesses that makes you happy when it happens, rather than upset at how predictable it was), but I didn’t see what happened after coming, making the final few minutes horribly depressing despite the always happy and upbeat Afromania ending song. At least I know there’s going to be a second season.

And, oddly enough, despite the fact that the series looks like it’s going to be this rowdy, action-packed, beat-’em-up, it isn’t. I think somewhere in there was where my initial assumptions about the series got tossed out the window–since it is a work from Yuuki Masami, part of the four-man team who, collaboratively, created the Patlabor franchise, I was expecting a lot more in the way of things being punched by Birdy’s light-enhanced fist of doom (which makes the concept of a fight between Birdy and Kenshiro amusing), even though I know from watching the first movie that Patlabor focused more on the characters over the fighting. Since a series that mostly revolved around punching things and not much else wouldn’t have held my attention very long, it was quite refreshing to spend several episodes not dealing with punching at all, but, rather, establishing the relationship between Tsutomu and Sayaka, which became one of the most bizarre triangles I’ve seen (I can’t really call it “love”, since Birdy more wants to kill Sayaka to get at the Ryunka in her, rather than jealous of her affection for Tsutomu).

The fun about the long stretch in the middle with the relationship buildup (and assorted menacing statements from Shyamalan) was more in noticing the very different aspects of mind duality in Tsutomu/Birdy and Sayaka/Ryunka. Tsutomu is conscious of the fact that he’s stuck within Birdy’s physical body (even if she can transform it into his physique through the unexplained power of alien magic), and, while there is a risk of the two separate consciousnesses merging and interfering with one another, they’re still clearly separate people. The two have to work together to acheive each other’s objectives, leading to moments where Tsutomu can’t do what he would like to do because of Birdy’s investigative work, and vice versa.

Opposite that, however, is Sayaka, who, rather than being conscious of the presence of another in her mind, is simply, and unknowingly, merging with the Ryunka. Rather than being at calm and ease with a bizarre co-habited mind as Tsutomu is, Sayaka grows ever more paranoid and worried about things around her and strange changes in herself–the same paranoid fears and worries that enable the parasitic Ryunka to obtain more control over her body. One of the best episodes of the series seemed like a throwaway episode–there’s a killer stalking the subway system, choking people to death, and, throughout the whole episode, you’re led to believe that it’s Sayaka doing the heinous crimes (she has dirty feet in the morning!). By this point in the story, the audience is well aware that Sayaka is the Ryunka host, so the mounting doubt and fear in private (having been built up over several episode as well), coupled with the calm demeanor at school, made for strangely compelling viewing. While the culprit turns out to be a malfunctioning android from Shyamalan’s company, there’s still a palpable sense of “if Sayaka isn’t doing that at night unawares, what is she doing?”.

Of course, the building fear and anguish leads directly to more reliance upon Tsutomu, who continues to support her even as the Ryunka takes greater control of her body. This is where the agonizingly depressing ending comes in–by removing the Ryunka from Sayaka, her memories of the previous three months (and, therefore, of Tsutomu and the events that had transpired between them) vanished as well. And then she gets transferred to a different school. To my romance-fiction-addicted heart, this was woefully tragic and deliciously heartbreaking, doubly so because the only way I can describe Sayaka is “amazingly cute”, a label made more deadly through the talents of Noto Mamiko. Call me a wuss if you must, but I enjoy heart-melting, even minor degress of heart-melting.

And yet, even after the whole series, I still wonder why people haven’t seen this. It’s not a MODERN CLASSIC by any means, but it seems woefully underrated for its merits.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Toradora!: Episode 1 Report

Astute followers of this particular corner of the information superhighway (all two of you) will probably remember that, some time ago, I read the first (translated) volume of Toradora! and issued a report on my findings, namely, that Toradora! was, in a bizarre and shocking development, deserving of its own popularity!

Of course, the light novel being good is one thing; whether or not the anime adaptation will be good is another matter entirely. I was able to check out the raw version of the first episode earlier today, and was suitably impressed by it. I hadn’t actually given much thought as to how they’d adapt Toradora! for the small screen, but I can say that they did it amazingly well. This may, of course, simply be first-episode budget-blowing audience-catching aftereffect, but I’m happy, and that’s what matters.

What got me (and, apparently, everyone else) is that Kugimiya Rie is, rather than resorting to her Shana/Louise/Nagi-esque voice, using one that’s different, thereby deflecting the cries of “TYPECASTING!” that has seemingly plagued the pre-airing discussion somewhat. Even Horie Yui, as Minori, is putting on a different voice than her usual (I knew it was her, yet I still needed some time to make sure it was, in fact, her).

Aside from acting, the episode itself was very well done, in comparison to the novel. I did not, however, read along with the novel in one window and the episode in another and record snide comments on a piece of paper, so my judgement might be a bit flawed. I was satisfied, and, at this pont, that’s all that matters. Fully animated Taiga was appropriately cute in a very Taiga-like way, and, in particular, the slight introduction of her brand of dere (the complete and utter inablity to move or speak when confronted with something involving the object of her affection) mixed with her being, well, Taiga, was pleasing.

As for how good the series is, in terms of the novel? I’m going to withhold judgement until I’ve seen the lightpost scene animated, which will be the litmus test for the series in that department. WIth Okada Mari as the lead writer crossed with Nagai Tatsuya (who has directed things well which would assist in the matter of the lightpole scene, even if he isn’t a Name To Watch Out For yet), however, I’ve got very few doubts as to whether it will be handled right.

In short:

Minori approves. Taiga, presumably, approves, but she’s too prideful to show it. For now, anyway.

Expect a better, more lengthy, and somewhat more interesting post when the lightpole episode does roll around! Shouldn’t be long now!

Soul Eater: The Midpoint Check!

Here we are, at the closest thing we can get to a midpoint for Soul Eater, and my internal thoughts upon the first half of Soul Eater bear much resemblance to the gnashings and thrashings and occasional screams of abject terror of the newly-released Kishin:

It’s not by Edvard Munch, but it will have to suffice. Unbearable agony of being indeed.

It’s not a clear-cut matter of “Soul Eater is awesome” or “Soul Eater is terrible” (this kind of polarized debate seems to be reserved for certain other series at the moment). It’s not even a matter of “I love Soul Eater” or “I hate Soul Eater”. In a psuedo-Zen statement (that, quite possibly, is entirely fabricated by my own self-defeating brain), Soul Eater just is.

On an episode-by=episode basis, Soul Eater has, very rarely, pulled out an actually bad, or at least unentertaining, episode–and, yes, I did not skip the two Excalibur episodes, since they were hilarious if only to see Takehito Koyasu have entirely too much fun being as annoying as he possibly can be (his glee is almost tangible, I think). In fact, there have been some downright amazing episodes, both for their sheer comic value and for their sheer dramatic value. And the overall thematic structure of the series remains intact and present throughout the series

And, yet, somehow, through some mysterious force of nature as yet unbeknownst to me, when I sit back at episode 24 and look back at the past half-year, the continuing sequence of episodes of consistently good quality is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Indeed, one of the first thoughts to cross my mind upon finishing 24 was “Why didn’t this happen ten episodes ago?” since, given the amount of actual plot we’ve seemed to have, that would be a much better place for it.

I chalk this up to the almost inconsistent nature of Soul Eater itself. Somewhere in the delicate balance between being comedic and being dramatic, Soul Eater has the ability to excel at both, but also seems to be incapable of working the two into a synesthetic whole. As far as entertainment value goes, it’s a great series–but, possibly, my desire for “something more” from the BONES 10th Anniversary Series is being left wanting. My latent inability to truly “get” shounen series on a general level (as opposed to a case-by-case level, which is where I operate) is also probably manifesting itself as well.

Negativity aside, episode-by-episode, I am still entertained by Soul Eater, which is exactly what it, as televised entertainment, wants to do to me, so I can’t really fault it for that. And this latest sequence of events–the battles underground to prevent the awakening of the Kishin–are much, much closer to what I was expecting when I started the series. The comedy/drama balance in recent episodes, too, has been much better. As things for Our Intrepid Heroes look down, Soul Eater as a series is looking up. I may be wavering and faulting now, but if the series keeps itself roughly along the same lines as it has been the past six or so episodes, then it’s highly likely that I’ll simply have to dismiss the above as a simple case of “slow start.”


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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a ridiculously long and only partially organized list of subjects


October 2008