Saturday, November 26, 2005

Promises, promises

Subject: Noir
Okay, after a bit of a break from anime this week, I had a little bit of catching up to do. Nothing was much of a breakthrough, but I'll take 'em in order...

"Blood+" ep 7 -- Hrm. Kind of dull. It's trying to fill in a little more backstory, and a there's a nearly-interesting layer introduced that re-visits Vietnam, but it's really lacking that whole "soul" business I keep going on about. I haven't quite dropped it yet, but I think that might just be out of sheer boredom in general. Not exactly a compelling reason to stick with a series, I suppose.

"Noein" ep 5 -- Well, I noticed another naturally-animated shot; whats-her-name kicking the soccer ball around while talking to whats-his-name. That was a nice touch. Beyond that, even though it's kind of neat, I'm finding myself not really caring about what the heck is going on all that much. And the mix of art/animation styles and story styles continues unabated. Will it pull together any sort of focus any time soon? I dunno.

On to the DVDs:

"Chrono Crusade", the last disc -- Yeah, the final episode was a bit of a tearjerker. I kind of resented it a bit, though, because it was manipulatively so, as opposed to feeling like it was a genuine outcome of the series as a whole. Like it was trying to play me instead of bringing me to that conclusion by myself. And then, it was like that moment happened about 12 minutes too early, because then the series seemed like it was meandering around looking for a place to end after that. So much so that the very last sequence was totally "WTF". And I don't mean WTF in one of those cool, surreal mind-blowing sorts of WTF ways, but instead, one of those "um, what does this have to do with anything that you just did for 24 episodes" WTF sorts of ways. I think it's exacerbated by the fact that I remember quite well the event in question, so it makes absolutely no sense in the context of the rest of the series. Or if it does, it's a pretty lame justification thereof. Oh well. Final verdict: Fun overall, but not worth buying.

Finally, "The Place Promised in our Early Days" -- Makoto Shinkai's first feature-length film that he got the chance to do after his impressive solo effort "Voices of a Distant Star". There's a lot of the same tone and style of that work to be found in this film. The primary crux being a sort of "normal" portrayal of life, but with a wierd, matter-of-fact, almost astonishing background element to it.

So in general, it's like the usual "slice-of-life" culturally-normal, simple relationship story, but the details of the setting and the world in general that surround the characters is a bigger mystery, and has the effect of transporting you to an alternate reality. My favorite "attention-to-detail" markers are quite well represented here, and, in fact, are probably the key to making the whole story work in the first place. Otherwise, it's rather simple, and it relies a lot on your imagination and interpretation to make more of the story than what's presented. Which is something I like a lot, especially if it's something that catches my fancy.

So despite the fact that I'm growing a bit weary of the omnipresent "Japanese school-age" kind of story, this one at least had enough going for it to let me overcome that predjudice and get into the texture and mood Shinkai set up.

Also, this is one of the few discs that I bothered watching an extra on; Shinkai's interview. He's got a few useful insights that I think are worth hearing if you're interested in the thought-process behind the creation of these kinds of programs. He's also got the advantage of getting "his own way" for producing this one, though with what he says and the evidence of what he put together is enough to prove that he was probably worth the investment on the part of the production company that gave him this gig in the first place.

No comments: