Friday, July 28, 2006

Newer than new

Subject: Noir
Apparently, a new season's worth of anime started up recently. Unfortunately, I've been a bit out-of-touch with all of that, so I hadn't particularly paid attention. I did a quick catch-up over on AnimeSuki just to see if I could spot anything interesting, though most of the posters there tend to gravitate toward stuff I don't find appealing.

There aren't too many, and from what I can tell, none of them are by Bee Train, who has there hands full right now anyhow, I would figure. Out of what was listed, only three caught my attention. And out of the three, only one has gotten subbed thus far.

That one is "Chevalier", or, as I should probably call it, "'Blood +' as if told by Alexandre Dumas". I mean seriously. Starts off with a reasonable enough premise -- set in pre-Revolutionary Paris, a young member of Louis XV's secret police is searching for cause behind the grisly murder of his older sister and how it's linked to the mysterious dissappearances of numerous Parisian women. The story hints at a dark underground society and some doings.

And then.... heeeeerrrre come the vampires! Replete w/ the whole blood-charging-the-sword thing, but with the added twist of the young man's older sister's spirit taking over his body. Or something... they ended it with that little "surprise".

I dunno. I was sticking with it because I thought there might be some potential with the story, and there still might be. But there's a lot about the animation and technique that's really not helping me here. It's Production I.G., which, before "Blood +", I would have figured would be really reliable in this area. But it's really more of the same there. The art was kind of bland, the characters kind of lifeless, and the little bits of CG were just annoying.

In addition, with regards to the camerawork, it's almost as if someone read my musings about how I really like how Mashimo uses the camera as if it were another character, and keeps it moving and interesting even with mostly-static artwork -- and totally missed the point. They were moving the camera all over the place and, on paper, utilizing a lot of the same techniques. But they had absolutley zero sense of timing in how they did it. None, zip, zilch. It was dreadful.

By contrast, the raw I saw of the first episode of "FLAG" was all about the timing. It was untranslated, so I only know a little bit about it from the synopsis I read, but the whole episode was visually portrayed with the POV of various cameras -- the narrator and the lead character are war photographers -- through the lenses, photos, video footage. A lot of static images in montage, all intercut with the narration and narrative. Very little actual animation, and that was mostly quite simple, but reasonably well done.

But the timing of every cut, how it flowed, how it came together -- fantastic! Well, until they got to the extended 3-D mecha-fest. That was a bit overdrawn and completely clashing with the mood and pace they set up with their innovative little technique. And without subtitles, the narration really dragged a bit too, though there was some interesting visual storytelling going on for the most part.

This is supposedly an OVA being shown on the online "Bandai Channel", so really, I shouldn't be legitimately watching it without paying Bandai. It probably explains why it isn't subbed, and I didn't know about it before finding the raw. There hasn't been any subsequent raws either. I don't know if they'll keep up the technique for the whole series or not; seems like it might wear thin after a couple of episodes. Still, it may be a long while before I actually get to watch it for real, but I'll keep my eyes open for more.

Finally, I've downloaded the raw for the first episode of "Project Blue SOS", but it doesn't really have enough of a hook for me to watch it untranslated. It looks like it has the potential for being an interesting, if cliche story. It seems to be set in a present-day alternative that looks the way it would have been envisioned 70-100 years ago, but kind of in a dorky way. "Detective Conan" meets "Flash Gordon" or something. Anyway, if it gets picked up and subbed, I'll give it another chance.

I can't tell if I've missed anything else, but I suspect I haven't yet.

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