Monday, October 24, 2005

"Mushishi" episode 1 (plus a little more "Noein")

Subject: Noir
"Mushishi" seemed like it might be worth checking out, not that I could tell a lot about what it was about.

So what I'm guessing it is about is a man who is a "spirit collector", who investigates (and can apparently interact with) phenomena related to the spirit world, of the "Mushi". The first episode sets the tone and a few of the rules of the world he inhabits, and does quite a good job of illuminating it without needing to overdo it with excess backstory. It also sets the expectation that the series will be episodic; the characters he interacts with this time will likely not be encountered again. He's "solved" the problem and has moved on.

The art style is nice, with creative renderings of the various spirits (and in one part, some drawings that come to life), though overall it's a little bland in spots for what it's trying to portray. I'm guessing that the color subtlety (the greens in particular) would probably have been better on the source material than the over-compressed fansub, as that seemed to be a narrative theme. The animation itself is kind of sedate, and it doesn't really do anything to escape it's manga origination. The dialogue and narrative kind of seem a little stiff in delivery, even without reading the translation, though I'm sure how it's translated may have an impact on that in my head. It's just that, even though I don't understand the dialogue, I can kind of tell it's missing something. But it's not awful by any means.

All told, though, it turns out to be a rather low-key, simple show, but with style of storytelling that interests me, and a subject matter that, not being Japanese, I find kind of unique and imaginative. I'm guessing it has something to do with the usual Shinto earth-spirits and whatnot, but that's exactly the kind of thing I like to see, as it lets me get a look at how a different culture's storytelling tradition can impact the medium. I like the overall tone and moodiness, and I think this will probably be worth sticking with for a while to see how it shapes up.

I also grabbed the raw of episode 2 of "Noein", because I was reading that the style changed. Apparently, there are different animation units working on different parts. And it's pretty obvious over all. A lot of the "spark" from the first episode, the "life" that an experienced animator brings to the characters -- that was mostly missing this time. As was most of the creative camerawork and cinematography. This one came across more like manga. In fact, in a couple of sequences, it was like it was very intentionally made that way due to the art style and the shading.

Which was an interesting effect; it captured a few elements of visual narrative pretty effectively. So even though the movements and motion didn't really achieve the same level as the first episode, the visuals managed to eek out their own niche in this one. There's still some experimenting going on, and the art style is still quite different from most other shows. So that's cool.

But I sure as heck didn't understand a word of it! And there were a lot more words this time, relating to the whole crew of what I'm guessing are trans-dimensional invaders. So unless the commenter from "AssSubs" continues, or some other group picks up the show despite the Media Factory C&D, I'll probably wind up not continuing until such time as it shows up as an R1. Which I hope it will!

UPDATE: I guess he did...

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