Sunday, May 22, 2005

Weekend update

Subject: Noir
So I was thinking "Tsubasa Chronicle" ep 7 came kind of close to slipping back into "standing around" mode, but it managed to redeem itself with a few involving moments. Then I think I figured out what gave me the "standing around" impression overall in this series. Actually, it's two things.

First is that Syaoran has this tendency to square off against threats with this stoic, but completely unreadable stance. I mean, Mashimo gives us lots of rather, uh, steady expressions in his series, expressions locked in an unblinking gaze that gives us viewers the opportunity to project a few of our own emotional responses and empathies behind their eyes. And usually, there's enough of a hook there to let you do it. But with that particular Syaoran pose, it's almost totally blank! He's not like that with Sakura. And Sakura is most definitely (and ironically) not blank. Even when she's, uh, staring blankly.

I may be missing something in his expression; maybe something my Western upbringing hasn't exposed me to. But I swear, I want to holler at the screen "do something already!" Heh.

Anyway, the other bit is when Syaoran actually does start doing something, suddenly we cut away to the other nearby characters who start discussing something else entirely, in a tone that makes it seem like maybe they're in the next room or something and not even aware that the Big Fight got underway. This time it was Sakura and whats-her-name-the-girl-they're-staying-with; last time it was Kurogane and Fay -- "hey, Mr. Cameraman, the action's back over there! Hello?!"

Oh well. Overall, this episode did alright I guess. I was pretty darn dark, to boot. But there was that little glimmer in Sakura that, even though she's doomed never to remember her previous relationship with Syaoran, she's still attracted to him. And that's cool. Have I mentioned that I like it when Sakura's eyes sparkle like that? *Ahem*

Since it was also a mellow Sunday morning, I decided I'd actually catch up on "Emma". In highschool, I was somehow fortunate (or was it unfortunate?) to have missed out on the usual Austen-Brontë-Eyre assignments, and while this story doesn't seem to be like Jane Austen's novel of the same name, it definitely seems to be an adaptation of the tone and subject matter of 19th-century romantic fiction, at least to the very shallow level that I know anything about it at all.

I was about to drop it after the first two episodes mostly because, as moody as I've been lately, romance stories kind of get on my nerves, and I really haven't had the attention span for them. The situations that the typical characters get themselves into, particularly the rather repressed/uptight/staid sort of inability to express themselves or their feelings, is the sort of thing that I've had enough of a "been there, done that" in my own life to the point that I know full well that the remedies often proffered in these sorts of stories don't actually work that way in reality. So more often than not, "these sorts of stories" are more frustrating than entertaining to me.

That all said, a mellow Sunday morning with a nice cup of tea (orange pekoe!) makes me a little more receptive to leave behind my own predjudices in the matter and I gave it a whirl. And you know, once I got past what I thought would be the stereotypes of the main characters, they really became a little bit more alive than that. Just a bit. I mean, it's not like every character, and every situation, isn't some sort of stereotypical 19th century romance novelization. Even down to the humorous foil that Hakim, the outlandish Indian prince, provides the story (his harem totally cracks me up with their straight-man expressions masking the comedy in their body language). The themes are straightforward, and are obviously using Victorian England as a parallel to the structures and strictures of Japanese society.

But along with the fact that I actually like the characters, there's a neat attention to detail, which is something that I'm always a great fan of. And unlike 98% of anime, this is a much more mature series. Granted that the thematic depth of it is still very much at a young-adult level, but it's refreshing nonetheless.

I've got a couple of more, but I'll follow up with some quickie reviews of those later after I watch another disc or two I have laying around.

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