Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The next one from Bee Train

Subject: Noir
So with my obsession over Noir leading to an obsession over Madlax leading me into the acceptance that I am a ranting obsessive about the work of Koichi Mashimo, I was eager to find out whatever I could about just what in the heck was in store from him for the fall season.

And when I found out about this one, that old familiar "What The F*" expression crept on my face. "Meine Liebe". A bunch of pretty-boys with gothic capes and cravattes and foofy hair and whatnot.

Now, I'm an open-minded guy; I watch and appreciate a lot of "sensitive-male" Euro-films and appreciate good period-pieces and costuming and whatnot. But just looking at these guys... It's... well...

...Kind of silly.

Of course, I've since learned that this sort of style, the whole "bishonen" genre & look, is rather popular with the ladies. This show in particular is based on a supposedly popular "bishonen dating sim" video game for girls. In fact, it's quite possible that there aren't any female characters in this show whatsoever.

Now, there a lot of strikes against this one for me on the surface. "Foofy hair & capes" aside. First: no female characters? I've said many-a-time that I'm drawn into a series mostly if there are independent and/or skilled and/or intensely dangerous women involved. Next: based on a video game?? I've mentioned before that in my sampling, the video game-based series tended to be the worst of the bunch. (No, .hack//SIGN does not count; it was about a video game, and the resulting actual video game was part of the overall multimedia delivery strategy. The .hack followons, though, I think prove my point!). Finally: oh, please, not another boarding school!

But here's the thing. It's one of Mashimo's. It's aimed at women. I get the very strong sense that, at least starting with Noir, Mashimo has been specifically developing shows with women viewers in mind. I mean, yeah, there's been some really sexy, leggy, busty gals, but they've been rather tastefully (and sometimes playfully, but never immaturely) drawn. Not to mention that they've been strong, vital human characters. And I suspect women viewers don't get the same kind of "WTF" look when seeing a pretty gal onscreen the way some guys (*ahem*) get a "WTF" look when encountering, well... this. (No, there are no girls in those shots. Really.)

Actually, I took a second look at that particular page, and noticed all the eyes. Really intense, dramatic stuff being hinted at there. That's the other hope I have for this show. Mashimo knows his cinematic language. He's able to build a solid dramatic arc and follow it through. He's able to make his characters seem alive, deep, and worth watching; all with an economy of framing and timing. The looks of these characters are very, very much a signature of Mashimo's work.

He's making a serious dramatic series for women. Which, considering the sheer amount of juvenile bouncy-boobs-and-panties junk (*cough* Sunabozu *cough*) aimed at 15-year-old boys (and college-age American fanboys of the same mentality), is quite remarkable.

And for these reasons, I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

Note: again on that last page, it looks like there are only going to be 13 episodes, a la Avenger. Beyond that I've had a hard time gleaning any sort of detail at all about the show. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more information and point to it as I find out more.

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