Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A texture that might rub the wrong way

Subject: Noir
Yeah, I'm referring to "Gankutsuou" disc 1 -- big surprise.

I remember seeing the textured-clothing gimmick before. One of the countless dozens of foreign and independent short animations I saw either in a festival or in a lecture definitely used the exact same effect, only instead of using modern CGI, it was all done by hand. I'm pretty sure it was either French or Eastern European (though it could very well have been Canadian), and somebody on the Gonzo creative team must have seen it, because it was the same thing. Googling for it is proving impossible.

At any rate, that texture business really turns off a lot of people. Since I'd seen it used before (and remember people complaining about it), I was more prepared for it, and, in and of itself, knew I wouldn't have a problem with it...

...if there were more to the show than a bunch of disjointed artsy gimmicks.

Well, maybe not so much "disjointed" as "unfocused". It's like they're taking the old Disney/Pixar maxim of "overloading" -- where you keep adding elements and detail to the background of scene -- but instead of loading up with gags like Disney/Pixar does, they load it up with psychotropic cyberpunk. And then instead of just being the background, it kind of becomes the entire thrust of the image. To the point that whatever's going on in the foreground is often lost in the cacaphony of clashing color and clutter.

Which, I suppose, could be cool and all; I've seen plenty of that sort of thing in my day. But the foreground that escaped the clutter didn't prove to be much in the "compelling" department. The craze over Dumas' original novel was after my time, and I only half-payed attention to the movie adaptation from a few years ago, so besides knowing the general thrust of the typical "revenge plot", I didn't take any baggage or expectations about this adaptation in to it. And on the surface, it seems creative enough. But it falls flat for me. I don't hate it yet, but it's kind of reminiscent of how I perceived "Samurai 7" way back when -- having a "thin veneer".

But, it's the first disc, after all. We've only just set the ground rules for the universe, and introduced the characters and the targets of the "revenge" plot. Will it wind up being as predictable as I think it might? Or will it just throw around more funky hallucinations disguising typical anime character performances and veer off into whatever direction seems cool at the time? Or will I finally catch a glimpse of a spark of life or a genuine moment that escapes the oh-so-clever trappings it's gone and wrapped itself up in? We'll see once the next disc is out!

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