Thursday, September 30, 2004

More about Kino's Journey (and what I've been watching without Madlax)

Subject: Noir
Not only a Wednesday, but also a Thursday has passed. I had declared first, the latter, then the former, "Madlax Day". Now both have gone by... but no fansub to be seen. I have the raw (see the previous post), but I haven't watched it yet, because I know I won't understand it. I've even posted a bounty; the trinkets that will be arriving from my CD-Japan order are up for grabs. All I need is an accurate-enough English script. I'll take it from there.

I've got more money than brains, I suppose.

Anyway, since I have tomorrow off from work (except, I've actually got to work. But I can do that from home), I'm having a few brewskis and have continued my "not Madlax" watching (which I promised earlier to catch up on). I popped in a .hack//SIGN disc to test my new player's audio configuration (verdict: AWESOME), and then...

I finished Kino's Journey.

I love this series. It is now my #3.

You may have noticed in my various reviews that I mention something about "moments" in films or shows that I like. Kino is all "moment". It's a series of fables, stories, poems, koans... moments. "The beautiful world" indeed.

Now, seeing as my top 2 series also involve 17-year-old young ladies (and my guess is Kino is about the same) probably indicates that I'm emotionally arrested at about 17 myself, but in reality, I think that the treatment of these characters is so striking and compelling compared to the usual fare that, all told, I'm truly captivated by the qualities of the story and the cinematic presence, and not stuck in some sort of retro-adolescent quagmire.

Let's take Evangelion disc #2 as an example. I commented earlier that I thought I liked it. Well, with disc #2, there was a whole lot more of the things that I dislike about the whole anime genre in it. Mainly the way it's aimed at that mid-teenage BS that I outgrew a long time ago. The women are all thinly-characterized stereotypes -- and I mean anime/Japanese stereotypes at that -- with all the annoying characteristics that entails. The cold, emotionless-but-learning-despite-the-gratuitous-nudity one, the adult-but-acts-like-an-oversexed-kid one, and the uptight-overconfident-accusatory-overbearing one. And, of course, the teenage male protaganist is shy-but-principled-and-awkward-yet-heroic. The ingredients for fan-service city.

I thought in the first disc of Evangelion that despite these things, there might have been something beyond that. The opening theme song was very old-skool cheesy; I loved it. The incedental music, and especially the closing theme, were classic cheesy lounge music. The "Fly me to the Moon" as the end theme (sung by different vocalists every time, I noticed) was paticularly entertaining, and I have a lot of cheesy bachelor-pad Mancini, Esquivel, etc. like that in my 50gb MP3 collection.

But damnit, it's pissing me off with this cliche crap. I want to like it, but it's getting annoying. But I'll rent #3 and see where it goes. I'm not finding it purchase-worthy yet, though.

Anyway, back to Kino. I haven't quite figured out how to describe it, but she always does something a little unexpected, and that makes the series all the more charming. How to describe it... With the Bee-Train/Mashimo women I've been idolizing, well, they're very stoic and maybe a bit cold. Kino kind of comes across that way, but then they'll show her laughing. And that makes my heart melt. Her actions and reactions aren't entirely principled, yet they make sense and are totally human. I love it. "Moments".

Philosophically, it's kind of high-school. But it's that deeper high-school that kids like me were prone to ponder than the vapid existence of the pop cliques. And there's nothing wrong with that. I still found plenty to find deep enough to think about for some time afterwards. Particularly the bit about her origin. The town where at a certain age they removed a part of your brain so you'd become a responsible adult and not complain about your job. That one, as intended, struck home.

But I've already mentioned before about a cartoon sparking a premature mid-life crisis. This is only carrying the momentum along, not causing it...

So I'll wrap up for now. I've got some more "watched it" to follow up with, but I really need Madlax closure first. Tomorrow, since I can't finish Madlax yet, I think I may do marathon #11 of Noir. I miss the girls terribly, as it's been weeks since I've watched an entire episode. It's not exactly the most grown-up way to advance another year into my late thirties, but it's something I love and enjoy, so why not?

In future installments, I'll start posting about my impending home remodelling project. Also, I'm volunteering to help out a fansub group with releasing episodes of Koichi Mashimo's next series: "Meine Liebe". More to follow. In the mean time, if you find an English fansub of Madlax 26, TELL ME!!!!!

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