Saturday, October 16, 2004

A lot to watch, a lot to say?

Subject: Noir
I just finished rewatching Kino's Journey. I am very impressed with this show. And the ending leaves me spellbound, as it should.

But I can't really put it into words, so I'll spend my time working on the other stuff I've been watching. Well, at least the anime stuff; I've seen a few non-anime movies as well, but I'm not ready to post on those yet.

So, going way back, I've been watching some old-skool series that Kouichi Mashimo directed. He did a couple of episodes of "Tank Police" way back when. And, go figure (and I've mentioned it before), I had actually seen these way back in the 80's! And oddly enough, remembered them pretty clearly as I was watching them. A lot of fun.

Also fun was the one OVA he did of the "Dirty Pair" series -- scantily clad gals with major weapons and the mad skilz to use them. I guess the old-skool stuff, even though it was trending towards the juvenile, wasn't quite reduced to the cliche annoyance that you see in modern aimed-at-the-15-year-old-male bore-fests that I'm not particularly enthralled with. These older programs aren't necessarily any less silly, but they were... well, more "fun". More enjoyable.

Not as "fun", but kind of interesting, was Mashimo's one-off OVA called "Weathering Continent". It's like it was trying to be the pilot for a series. It was way more serious than the previous two. A bit of weirdness and mysticism. And an overall atmosphere that was very reminiscent of "Avenger". Kind of a foreshadowing of the work that has hooked me into this obsession.

One thing was apparent in all of this; Mashimo comes from a film background. As opposed to a "manga" (aka comic book) background. The camera is as much of a character as the subjects. The timing is excellent. I really need to know more about this guy.

So other stuff that wasn't Mashimo-related; what to say...

Bebop has been growing on me big-time. I really enjoyed it. I've got to rent the whole thing first before I'm done with my opinion, but I like it a lot. I figure it's a slightly distant #4 after Kino's Journey. It's fun, deep, and interesting.

Tonight I watched another fun one. "Gunsmith Cats". Two gals-with-guns who are bounty-hunters that tool about in a Shelby Cobra in Chicago. Lots of silliness, panty-shots and other inanities, but wow. It was "fun"! I think the biggest help is the attention to detail. This is apparently an older (mid-90's) manga-based series (that I'm pretty sure I saw an episode or two of a number of years ago on cable), and it has a few of the usual cliches in it, but it has an interesting premise, a cute set of characters, and gunplay that I can't help but be drawn to after my exposure to my darling girls of Noir and Madlax. This is a very different program. But I still find it enjoyable. And that Natasha character; I've got to find out what the relationship of the character designer or animator is with Bee Train, because she had a real Layla Ashley vibe going for her (a bit more psychotic, but still there were shots that were strikingly familiar).

Another one that's growing on me a little is "FLCL". I've commented before on disc 1 about the "yeah-whatever" factor. It's pretty seriously hyperactive and a bit culturally self-referential. But I don't know if it's the fact that I've been watching more anime or learning more about the subculture in general, but, well, FLCL is growing on me. I found disc 2 actually funny. And interesting. I'm looking forward to finally getting a hold of #3. I'm not sure I'd buy it yet. But I'm finally seeing the quality in it.

Finally, in the fansub front, I've actually stuck with a couple of the series I mentioned earlier that I figured I'd otherwise drop. But I've kept them on as "casual viewing". "Uninhabited Planet: Survive", while definitely a kids show, has a spark of life to it that has made it worth watching one or two a weekend. "Hunter x Hunter" is also very much a kids' show, but there's a few little twists and underlying layers to it that -- once you get past the very absurd "Sushi bake-off" -- makes it the sort of show that you want to see what happens next. I've been using it for my morning exercise-bike workout.

I know, I used to use Noir for that, but I was finding that after most episodes, I really couldn't concentrate on work for the day. It's bad enough that I listen to the OST on my way to work most days (gawd, I'm listening to it right now!), but to have to try and deal with the mundane daily activities of my career while the images of Kirika and Mireille are fresh in my mind... well... it's no wonder I think I'm going through a mid-life crisis! Hunter x Hunter doesn't elicit nearly that kind of obsession, but is still a whole lot better than normal TV. And there's a LOT of episodes. So it's working out pretty well.

As far as new-season fansubs go, I've seen 2 episodes of "Mai Hime" and one of "Beck". I don't really like "Mai Hime". Kind of lame to me. If there were two mecha-dogs, then I could crack some "Duran Duran" jokes. There's some token "ooh, that's kind of cool" things about it, but not enough to make up for the overall cliche-dom. "Beck" has some potential. I admit I'm tired of the high-school kid thing, but this is more focused on the underground music scene; or, at least, the J-pop distilled version of that. I'll give it a few more episodes to be sure if it's not just another "oh-look-at-me-aren't-I-so-hip" kind of show.

In a couple of weeks Mashimo's next one will start up. I keep saying I'll post about it, but I haven't quite figured out what to say yet. Stay tuned...

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