Archive for the 'kannagi' Category

Kannagi: The Crazy Does Not Stop

I still remain firmly convinced that Kannagi is a solid testament to the assertion that the difference between being trite and not being trite is in how it’s executed rather than how it’s conceived. But I’m pretty sure that everyone realizes this already and that, rather, I would like to spend some time explicating some rather amusing observations.

  • Akiba-kun. The very second he opened his mouth to rant about the quality of direction in Lolikko Cutie (the highly parodical snippet we were alloted in the ending credits to episode 7 amused me vastly, by the way. “Actually, I have three lives!”), I thought immediately of myself, as that’s exactly how I would react upon someone mentioning something I liked in a negative context (although, in the case of Lolikko Cutie, I don’t think I’d go to quite the extent Akiba-kun does, but the spirit’s there, and that’s what counts). Pretty much any time he steps on screen I know I’m in for hilarity, although I’m starting to wonder if anything will be better than the presentation of the Beta video tape, follwed by “It’s a Sony!” I have a nasty feeling that there will be better.
  • And, speaking of Akiba-kun going into far too much detail on the direction, Yamamoto Yutaka really knows how to manipulate humor. Speaking as someone who has spent entirely too much time thinking seriously about being funny, and also having been a bit of a humorist myself, he understands some of the strongest weapons in the repitoire of the comedian: one, create funny characters and set them loose on each other with free reign and hilarity is born; and two, sometimes the best joke is the one that isn’t actually made.Witness episode 7: as more characters pile into Jin’s room in an attempt to coax Nagi out of the closet, things start to spiral out of control and it becomes less about getting Nagi out of the closet and more about watching the characters interact. You aren’t even told what, exactly, Jin has done to incur Nagi’s irrational wrath until the episode is nearly over, and by then it’s mostly trivial, because you’re laughing too hard at everything else that’s happened. Better, perhaps, is the scene where the cheerfully sadistic Zange is doing something to Jin, although network constraints (Kannagi does air relatively early: 10:30PM on Saturday evenings) and just plain good comedic sense from Yamamoto led to us not being terribly sure what, exactly, Zange was doing to Jin. It’s the classic setup: sometimes, the funniest thing is to leave it up to the imagination of the viewer to invent their own (in this case, perverted) scene. Handled with the right balance of vagueness and specific details, this can provide endless amusement and running gags in both the series and in the following. Personally, I found it funnier to imagine some kind of horribly complex, planned-out act to make it seem like “embarassing things” were happening, either impromptu or without letting Tsugumi in on the deal (perhaps to make her own shock, embarassment, and discomfort contribute to the overall effect. Such an eventuality works for me because I, as the viewer, know that Zange would totally do horribly embarassing things to Jin for the sole sadistic purpose of pissing off her sister, and so, therefore, by acting like she is doing them, but not actually doing them, the insinuation combined with the subversion of her own character archetype makes it delightfully amusing.Why did Kyoani say Yamamoto wasn’t ready to be a director a year ago, anyway? Was he actually good, and there’s just some kind of politics behind this, or did he just train on a mountaintop with a wizened old man in the martial arts of directorship in the intervening year? Is there a similar wizened old man on a mountaintop for the martial arts of librarianship?
  • Speaking of Zange-chan, I am still working up some kind of overly complicated and tongue-in-cheek theory about how Kannagi is actually about the intervention of Western values (personified by Zange, who wears a crucifix) versus traditional Japanese values (personified by Nagi, who is a mobile sacred Shinto tree). I mean, really, look at how brutal Zange is to subvert Nagi. She ties her up in the shed! She kicks her in the face! She does anything (mostly decitful things, though) to gain the willing support of the Japanese public, forcing Nagi to fight her on her own turf! If that’s not some kind of intercultural dialogue manifested in two decidedly insane yet strangely attractive sisters, I don’t know what is.

The main thing that’s surprised me is that, even with Kannagi going down directions I didn’t quite think it’d go back at episode two, it’s still retained is particular brand of comedic styling that causes it to rise above the status of “just another otaku-service series.” We may have had underwear shopping episodes, but I’ll be damned if they weren’t hilarious underwear-shopping episodes.

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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.

Toradora!

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.

Kannagi

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.


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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