Saturday, November 25, 2006

denouement, and giant fuzzy puppies

Subject: Noir
I didn't actually get further than the first episode of "MADLAX" just yet, which is for the best. I figure I'll do a few eps at a time over the course of the week to get myself properly informed for my grand opus. Deadlines and all that; the pressure's on!

This evening I watched a couple of discs from Netflix. I've pretty much decided to switch over, so I'm in the "free trial" period right now.

First up is the animated Korean movie, "My Beautiful Girl Mari". Very nicely done. Simple. Animation-wise, it's a mix of 3D CGI with a flattened 2D character style that would be remeniscent of a cutout method, if not for it's multiplanar, almost rotoscoped style. A bit stiff in places, but otherwise it manages to capture the spark of life despite the drawbacks otherwise proscribed to it's technique. It's a combination of a "slice of life" story with a rather dreamy, almost trippy fantasy. Including a gigantic white fuzzy puppy stomping its way through a puffy-clouded dreamscape. Nice stuff. And the story, while simple, is involving enough to bring you along for the ride. I was a bit lost in the initial dialogue since I was a tad distracted, but it did it's job and reeled me in like it should. Not bad.

Also, I finally (finally!) got to end "Gankutsuou" with disc 6. It's been quite a while since I left it, and I fear I forgot quite a bit of the details of what happened. I'm confident that I had enough to go on otherwise, but I find myself kind of annoyed at the overall conclusion.

Essentially, as of the first episode on this last disc, they start spelling out exactly what happened. Which is fine, but by this point, a lot of it was pretty much in the "goes without saying" territory. So it essentially was going for the "closing the narrative threads we blatantly created in the first place" deal. Allright, fine.

Then suddenly we see the pointy-eared chick (blanking on her name) again after her being shunted to the background for quite a while, and we get into some bizzaro faceoff between the Count and his object of revenge, who turned hyper-megalomaniac and tried to take over (by blowing up) the neo-Paris that was portrayed. The final standoff was full of guns and hostages and angst and whatnot, and I don't know if it really served a useful dramatic purpose when it was finally all over and stuff started exploding. Kind of an "oooo-kay" finish there.

But it wasn't really over; suddenly we're eight (six? nine?) years in the future, and totally into "where are they now" territory. A forced denouement. And it's set up that whatsisname (the dude who's been central to all this) and the pointy-eared chick are likely set up to be paired, but what of Eugenine (I remember her name, go figure, who seems to be still competing for his attention? Everything else was very much still "where are they now" material. Though I could have sworn that "chick who the Army dude rescued" had died previously. Guess I was wrong. Oh well.

So now that it's over, I suppose that if I was able to see it in a timely fashion, I'd probably be able to have stuck with the context (and all of the names!) in such a way that I've gotten a smidgen more out of it than I did. And like I've said before, I like how they were unique with the style and all that -- they even toned back the insane texturizing to something more workable. But overall, I'm kind of disappointed that the story wasn't much of a breakthrough, and that is was more or less warmed-over leftover of the original book. The character animation, through all of the unconventionality, was really more of the same as far as limited Japanese character expression goes. Manga with funky backplates, really. There were still some breakthrough moments, though, that made it entertaining enough to stick with.

But in the end, I guess I'm kind of disappointed that all the obvious effort that went into it really missed the mark for a truly transcendent piece of work. It was within their grasp, for sure. But it missed the mark by quite a bit; probably by being way too self-aware, yet not very aware at all. Figure that one out!!

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