Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Chronicle" chronicle

Subject: Noir
Well, obviously since my last post, "Tsubasa Chronicle" episode 3 was subbed (many, many times), and I'm sure all of you have seen it already. I finally got to yesterday.

I was happy to see that, overall, there was a lot less "standing around". This show is definitely approaching the ".hack//SIGN" level of wordiness, albiet the exposistion of the backstory in .hack was much more creative and interesting (and arguably, part of the entire experience) -- Tsubasa's backstory is more like a quick "hurry and throw something out there so we can move on with the plot" kind of obviousness which I suppose is more necessary for a show airing on a "For Kids" channel.

Unlike a lot of commenters on other blogs and messageboards, I don't fault it for the flashbacks, either. Heck, I like "Noir", right? That has a "flashback within a flashback", after all! Y'see, even though all of us can get a hold of every fansub, and many of us would be able to tape or DVR shows that we might miss, most everyone who watches some series or another may not actually see the first episode of any given series. Some stumble on it by accident later on. Some hear about it from friends or on the 'net and decide they want to give it a try. So a show has to ground the "latecomers" enough so they know what's going on well enough to hook them into continuing.

That's why Noir (and now Tsubasa) is "flashback-city", and why it was so successful in snagging me even though I started somewhere towards the middle. It's also why I completely didn't latch on to "Babylon 5" many years ago until I had the opportunity to start it from the top. Shows that heavily rely on sweeping story arcs can be very difficult to join "in-progress". Sometimes flashbacks can be a bit of a crutch, though, and Mashimo definitely leans on it a bit heavily. But writing also plays an important role in establishing a grounding in the present. .hack had that big-time. Tsubasa, not so much.

Anyway, that little lesson in continuity aside, I was a little dissappointed in some of the continuing devolution of the trademark Mashimo "realism" into more cliche anime visual gags. Syoaran's "super-deformed" reaction to that pokeman-critter's leading them to a restaurant. The swirly-fingerprint on the punk-gang dude's extreme finger closeup. And the non-visual cliche of shouting out whatever "extreme power" they happen to be employing. Sure, these are little comedic, cartoony touches. And the posing along with the "shouting out" clearly showed that sort of thing being mocked. But it's yet another reminder that this is a "kids' show" first and foremost. There's nothing wrong with that, but I need a little more depth for my own edification.

And for this episode, it came at the end! When Sakura wakes up, she stares at a sleeping Syoaran for a bit. Well, a looong "bit". Her puzzled expression doesn't change; she doesn't move at all. But the camera starts by slowly zooming in. Then slowly zooming out from a different angle. Then it tracks across her eyes. Then it tracks back and in the opposite direction from behind her. The camera is telling the story of what's going on in her head; her disconnection, her growing distance from Syoaran.

That's the classic cinematic simplicity I've been looking for! Yay! Such little touches are what make me happy. And that makes all the difference between using the medium the way it's meant to, vs. just slapping up some "moving manga" panels on the screen.

1 comment:

maromi said...

The little comedic oments are there most likely to satisfy the Tsubasa fans. The real problem with this series is the fact that the director's typical anime are almost the complete opposite of the manga. He has to make both his fans and fans of the manga happy. It's hard work, but I'm sure he can do it.