Posts Tagged 'anime'

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: “Are you satisifed with this world?”

Felt-tan is weeping for Lockon Stratos. I would like to give her a hug. But I can’t, because she is made of pixels. :(

The difference in ideology between Lockon (standing in for the Meisters in general) and Ali Al-Sarchez (standing in for, uh…Ali Al-Sarchez) certainly reared its ugly head, here at the end of the road. Both Ali and Celestial Being are terrorists, of a sort–but it gives an insight into what terrorism really is. Ali is, of course, the way we want to view terrorists: insane, war-mongering, and bloodthirsty individuals. And, certainly, in our world, there are quite a few of them out there, although I personally have not met one and therefore cannot vouch for this fact. But the thing you have to remember about terrorists is, there’s also ones like Lockon out there, who aren’t fighting because they want to, but because they want to change the world somehow. It’s a shady gray area that Gundam 00 is touching upon here. Terrorists are like any other  human: they fight for what they feel is right, even if it means violence to get their way. We may not agree with their methodology (in the case of the real-world, I certainly don’t), but, at least in their minds, violence is the only path to change. The eradication of war is certainly a noble goal, but to what means Celestial Being will take to achieve this end is in doubt. How far is too much?

The difference is clear, however: the story is a conflict, as Gundam series always are, between those who wish for more chaos and war, and those who wish to stop it. We had this in Gundam X, we had this in Gundam Wing, we had this in the UC series, we had it in Turn A, and we had some bizarre, Imagawa-influenced version of it in G Gundam. Of course, in this case, rather than either side working for any one government or military, it’s instead paramilitary versus paramilitary. The actual military is left to unite against the threat.  It’s a complicated mess of a situation, like any war, and, on this, at least, Celestial Being and the military stand a chance at agreeing on things, except for that pesky methodology problem of intervening in conflicts.

We already saw the Trinity’s approach to eradicating war, namely, blow everything and anything up to prevent conflict from ever happening in the first place. Yet even this subsidiary branch of the great Schenberg plan may be in for some posthumous redemption in the form of Nena joining into possibly-tenuous alliance with Setsuna & Co. Or, at least, that’s what my Kugimiya-addled brain wants to happen, what may actually happen might differ from my ideal scenario.

And, finally, a eulogy for Lockon:

Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. Lockon. (etc.)

No, really, Lockon’s final words (see title for handy reminder) point out one critical thing: the world we live in, however advanced it might be, still isn’t the ideal world for humanity to live in. The real question posed by Lockon, then is: do humans really want the world to change? Or would they rather stay in the “comfort zone” of wars and turmoil, unwilling to change due to general acceptance of the way the world is?

Or is Lockon really a crazy bastard, and the suave cool guy demeanor was just a front? THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

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Shigofumi: Mandatory Beach Episode with Stave Fanservice

I am now officially moe for Kanaka. Not only does she take baths, she surfs, too!

This episode was totally filler from start to finish, but I don’t mind–it was a hilarious and fun episode. That’s one of the strengths of Shigofumi, I think. It’s capable of being both deadly serious and riotously hilarious, and, occasionally, this occurs in the same episode. That’s a hallmark of skillful writing and direction, there. It’s one thing to have a series be serious, and directed/written well, or to have a series be comedic, and directed/written well. It’s something entirely different to be able to handle both par exellence, which is exactly what Shigofumi is doing. It’s not a groundbreaking series by any means, but it’s solidly done.

As a filler episode, this episode was primarily focused on the “comedy” aspect of Shigofumi. I found there to be several jokes done throughout the episode that were done well; my favorite from the episode has to be the interaction between Kaname and Matoma. It was  just so delightfully absurd that I had to giggle uncontrollably at their perfect foil to the wild antics of the four girls. While there’s a wild pillow fight going on in the next room, Kaname offers tea to a stave. Tea. How can a stave drink tea? I don’t know, but that’e exactly why Matoma’s affirmative response was hilarious. I was expecting him to point out the obvious, that he couldn’t drink tea (which would have been exactly what Alastor would have done, had this been Shakugan no Shana instead of Shigofumi) but, instead, he agrees. I don’t know if it was the fact that it subverted my expectations or what, but the three cuts to them in the room, alone, being stoic and manly and professional while the girls throw a huge party next door, were absolutely brilliant.

The series truly has everything you could want in an anime: cute girls, check; thought-provoking episodes, check; excellent comic relief, check; surfing staves, check. I’m finding it hard to believe that we’re only starting the year and already we have two strong contenders for best-of 2008 (Shigofumi and true tears). And next season looks nuts. Best year in anime history?

Spice and Wolf: There Be Gold in Them There Sheep

THE PLAN: smuggle gold in sheep.

THE PERPETRATOR: Sweet, innocent, cute Norah.

THE CHANCE FOR SUCCESS: 10%, but with courage we can make it 100%!

My only question for Lawrence is, how do you plan to get the gold out of the sheep? I mean, I assume the easiest way would be to butcher the sheep, but…they’re sheep. They’re cute. They’re also dumb, but that’s okay, because they’re sheep. They wouldn’t be sheep if they were smart. Sheep are considered smart if they discover the amazing fact that all grass does not taste the same. The Albert Einstein of sheep, however, broke new ground in the field of Grass Research by assigning a name to this phenomenon: “grass” and “tastes-like-grass-but-not-really”.

Sheep jokes aside, this plan is probably going to succeed (natch), and probably Norah is actually a magician, and probably the Church is an evil entity. I’m no anti-religion person, but it’s nice to see that the church in whatever the name of this fantasy-world is isn’t exactly completely upstanding. As was the case in our own medieval times, the church is somewhat corrupt. This doesn’t mean good people don’t work for it, but it does mean that they have an agenda to push, like a kind of independent government that operates in multiple areas at once. And we can’t forget the burning of heretics. Nasty, nasty heretics.

We, or at least I, also gain some more insight into Horo’s character. It occured to me after watching this episode that Horo, prideful as she is, is actu8ally an extremely lonely wolf-person-thing. I think her prideful, self-centered exterior is a way of denying to herself that loneliness. Lawrence, of course, breaks the loneliness, but as he is, well, human, he doesn’t necessarily always suit Horo’s needs. We saw last episode that she got mad at him for accusing her of ruining his chances at finding the money he needed, yet at the beginning of this episode, she’s crying and wondering why he’s such a “softy”, to borrow BSS’;s translation. Being the lone god of that one village at the beginning is certainly a fun prospect at first, but, after a while, even the largest of egos gets tired of constant groveling and worshiping. Fortunately for Horo, Lawrence is a kind person, and no matter how much they may bounce one-liners off each other all day, at the end of the day there’s still a sort of bond between them.

The series gimmick of character interaction and depth mixed with hard-core economics is, as I’ve said before, quite charming. It works well–there’s depth in the characters here, at the same time that there’s economic education of a sort. I like it for both, even though sometimes the economics escapes me.

And Horo. Yes. Wolf ears and tail. Can’t discredit that. Nothing makes economics more palatable than a wolfgirl.

true tears: The Twisted Path Towards Resolution

In a surprising twist of events, Miyokichi is given more depth than in the entire series to date! I think that was the part of the episode that surprised me the most (in an episode full of suprises) for some reason. For someone who I’ve always seen as a kind of extra character who isn’t going to be major in any way, I think the fact that they gave him a short moment in the spotlight a showcase of the technical merit of this series. No one character is without some kind of depth to them. Even Jun has some personality to him, especially after this episode.

Probably the best part of the episode, though, was the scene–punctuated by a new song from eufonius, no less–of Shin’ichiro chasing after Hiromi on his bike. The episode was about disaster after disaster piling up on him, and he passively accepts all these events, not betraying any of his true feelings, until the pain of losing Hiromi is just too much. Shin’ichiro has always been about being stoic in the face of adversity, but the toll of the events the series documents is beginning to exact itself upon him. His world is crumbling around him–Aiko wants to move on from him, Noe is feeling somewhat betrayed by him, and Hiromi is moving out of his house–and, true to any human to whom this has happened, he decides not to take it sitting down.

The series is winding to a conclusion, one which will probably be painful and heartbreaking for some, or many, or all. I still don’t have a clue how they could end up the story, or even if they could, if we’ll be left with an open-ended ending. Not that I think an open-ended ending is bad per se, but it’s a possibility for the series. The previous ten episodes have astounded me in quality and sheer force of pathos, and there is no reason for me to doubt that the remaining three episodes will not do the same. I don’t want it to be over, though, but, alas, all good things must come to an end.

Maybe there’ll be a sequel: true tears 2: cry harder. Possibly with some vengeance.

New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W: The Ravages of Technology

It occurred to me, while watching more of Gundam Wing (or New Mobile War Chronicle Gundam W, or whatever you want to call it) that there’s a certain theme pervading the series in a somewhat quiet fashion. They don’t make a huge deal out of it, but it’s there nonetheless.This is, of course, the issue of technology as applied to warfare. We can use more advanced technology, but at what price?

The first example that this occurred to me was when Zechs piloted the Tallgeese for the first time. The Tallgeese, if you recall from your hazy memories of the 1990s, was the original mobile suit that was never completed. It was, of course, completed, but the dangers of the prototype were very clear in the series: Zechs, Mr. Masked, Skilled Pilot himself, cannot even pilot it without suffering major injuries. It’s the most basic example of improved warfare technology having a drastic effect on human life–not only does the Tallgeese function as a fearsome weapon of destruction, but it takes a severe toll on the pilot himself. In other words, the weapon harms both the enemy and the ally, and it is impossible to use the weapon without causing harm to your own forces as well.

The second example comes from the mobile doll system. Again, here we have a new technology used to fight a war; in this case, it’s machines fighting the war in stead of actual people. This appears to be the wave of the future, as, hey! War without bloodshed! But, as the series is careful to point out, war without bloodshed and sacrifice isn’t war at all, but a game, and one that people could find themselves badly addicted to. In this sense, war without sacrifice simply means that there will never be an end to war. You can say what you will about the questionable philosophy of Wing–this one’s got it right. If humans are not being killed, and the only thing being lost is money, then there’s no real reason to ever end a war–war is, as has been proven time and again, a serious moneymaker for governments, and a way to distract the populace from pressing issues such as civil rights. Without sacrifice, resistance to war seems futile.

(And speaking of sacrifice, that reminds me of the question posited by Giant Robo: “Can happiness be acheived without sacrifice?” If we take “happiness” to mean “peace”, then Wing’s answer is a resounding “no”, as the case of Quatre clearly shows.)

The third example is similar to Tallgeese: it’s the Wing Zero itself. The system renders the pilot insane and charged with bloodlust, as demonstrated by the normally upbeat and pacifistic Quatre turning into a crazy psychopath. If the system can turn the pilot into an inhuman monster, what good does it do? Is it really a system someone should use? What good is new technology if it makes humans lose their humanity?

I don’t know if this issue is one frequently lambasted by the many detractors of Gundam Wing, but it’s an interesting thing to think about. I think it’s a legitimate point of the series as a whole, even if you consider the rest to be bunk. Even if there are no real answers, it’s something fun to chew on, and ruminate about, and write thesis papers on.

Or not.

Hatenkou Yuugi: “Go for it, tentacles! I’m rooting for you!”

Baroqueheat is probably the best character of Hatenkou Yuugi. Quite the saucy lad indeed.

Aside from the first episode, I think this has been my favorite episode of Hatenkou Yuugi yet. It was a simple tale of wanting to see the sky (which reminds me of sola), but, as always, the actions of Rahzel, Alzeid, and Baroqueheat are somewhat complex. They’re all good-hearted individuals, but they behave in somewhat unusual fashion. You get this sense that there’s something deeper driving their actions, some kind of machinery under the surface that drives their actions. Alzeid certainly showed the most warmth he’s had all series for Ludovika. The anime seems to be fairly episodic in nature, whereas the manga seems to have a plot of sorts. (Speaking of the manga, I now have the first seven volumes, and I am ready for Hatsnkou Yuugi amped up to 11..which is what it was at originally) This plot probably delves deeper into the characters’ pasts that the anime only tantalizingly hints at. I had someone once describe anime to me as “24 minute commercials for manga” which is a somewhat pessimistic view of anime, but I think that’s what Hantenkou Yuugi is. In a way.

The dynamic interplay between the three protagonists continues to be the best part about the series, and this episode is chock full of snippets of character development (such as Baroqueheat shivering and heating coffee and himself, or the aforementioned Alzeid dispensing important life advice for Ludovika) and Baroqueheat’s tender, loving creepy advances on Rahzel for no seeming reason. He is, as I said above, the best character, because he’s got the most verve. Who else in the series would be a total, unforgiving playboy even when knocked into bathtubs and smacked with a katana? Who else would cheer on tree tentacles attacking the supposed love of his life? Baroqueheat, that’s who. He accomplishes being practically useless with style, which is something I can appreciate. He’s also, unfortunately, the character we know the least about, in terms of past revealing, and, with three episodes to go, doesn’t look like we’re going to get into his backstory. Which makes me sad.

Maybe there’ll be more of it in the manga!

Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou: Imperfect Love

Let’s see how many specific details of this series I can remember. I’ve only been watching it off and on for about 9 months now. That should tell you just how slow I really am. I’ve been trying to clear out my backlog recently, hence the sometimes strange posts that seem to come from nowhere and have absolutely nothing to do with the season at hand at all.

Kare Kano is an absolutely darling series I have waited my entire anime watching career to see, and I finally managed to get around to finishing it today. The thing that always impressed me throughout the series, as intermittently as I watched it, was the sort-of-but-not-quite comfort food feeling of the series. It’s very good at capturing the essence of an individual’s personal torment, demonstrating how this torment affects who they are, and then resolving it. The entire series is relationship-based (as one would expect with a title that has the words “Kareshi” and “Kanojo” in them) and the dynamics of relationships are honestly shown here. Little, almost meaningless things to one character cause great anguish for another, whether it be their presence or their lack of presence. The early episodes, in particular, I loved for their portrayal of developing love. Similar to Saku-chan and Aki from Socrates in Love, Arima and Tukino meet each other, hate each other, discover each other’s secrets, laugh about it, and then fall in love. There’s the whole spiel given each recap (and, given the fact that this is Kare Kano, there are a lot of recaps) of progressing from enemies to “less than lovers and more than friends” to a full-blown romantic relationship.

This all takes place in the first six or seven episodes; the rest of the series is devoted to maintenance. Neither Arima nor Yukino are especially high-maintenance lovers, but that doesn’t mean that their relationship isn’t without strife, heartbreak, and repair. Whenever Yukino feels down about her new, less vain self, Arima notices and somehow manages to always dispel her fears, even if she never confesses them to him. It’s that level of intimacy that makes them a good couple–neither is really sure about themselves, yet they always manage to somehow help each other out of their own despair and self-questioning. It’s the ideal high school relationship, which is exactly what it set out for and got.

Anno, when he’s actually doing the direction, is at top form in Kare Kano, with strange animation tricks (albeit not as strange as Shinbo’s, but pretty strange for cel animation) and a heavy dose of humor. He didn’t direct the whole thing, of course–funding ran short, the manga-ka got angry, and Anno quit in frustration, leaving a random staffer to pick up the scraps. They did an admirable job with the last eight or nine episodes, all things considered–it’s very obviously low-budget, and they didn’t quite cover that up with clever direction as in Hidamari Sketch, but they passed. Except for the colored pencil episode. That one was…yeah.

None of this is news to anyone, I’m sure, because I’m always slow on the uptake at times,  but I really liked Kare Kano, all things considered. It’s a very honest series that isn’t afraid to show the inner pain of characters who superficially are having fun and enjoying themselves.  It’s about the power of love to heal old wounds, and discover exciting new selves. And also Tsubasa eating a lot of candy, and generally being a brat.


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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