Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The problem with me saying "The problem with Gonzo"

Subject: Noir
So I just finished up "Red Garden". And while I've been making fun of it a little, I've got to say, it was a well-done show. It was a fine construction of simple "moments", the sort of thing I used to go on about in the early days of this blog.

But go figure, Gonzo takes what is essentially a vampire-vs-werewolf gang war story and turns it into a restrained and emotional young woman's drama. And even with all the high-fashion nonsense and high-school awkwardness I dislike, the characters appeared genuine and storyline kept you guessing while still rewarding you by uncovering itself layer by layer.

The animation had it's ups and downs. A few scenes were well-crafted and quite subtle in how effective they were; others, well, were expectedly stiff and a bit cheap. The overall strength of the design carried it through well enough, though. The performances, both vocally and in what the animators did with the characters was quite involving. There were a few sequences where the dialog had a bit of an ad-lib back-and-forth going on that's really rare -- heck, non-existant! -- in anime, since they recorded the dialouge first this time. That led to a few awkwardly-paced spots, but in a way, they were more like slice-of-life scenes, which again, in a "vampire-vs-werewolf gang war story" is kind of remarkable.

It still couldn't resist dipping into a bit of gore towards the end, though it was nothing like the typical horror show. And, of course, it couldn't resist ending on a total "WTF". Though as "WTF"s go, this one was rather nice; sort of sweetening a bittersweet moment.

Another touch of Gonzo in rotation for me has been the DVDs of "Last Exile", which I watched a ways back when it was on TV. This time I'm watching in Japanese and on big-screen, full resolution. Another thing I had noted about Gonzo previously was that they did "epic" pretty well, until it all goes and falls apart in insanity at the end. Well, I'm not at the end yet (still two discs to go), but I remember it wasn't too insane in particular. I think.

But boy, howdy, is it doing the epic thing. It goes for "big", and it gets it. The attention to detail and the rules of the universe hold the vast backdrop together pretty well, and while the foreground stories are a lacking a bit of maturity and depth, they are still varied and intertwine pretty well. The characters are all interesting and watchable, though I find myself drifting off thinking about technique more than I pay attention to what they're saying.

The "integration" between 3-D objects and 2-D character work doesn't bother me too much; in fact in a few scenes, it works pretty damn well. Others, not so much, but that's okay.

I'm sure when I wrap it up, I'll probably complain about it again, but for now, it's still entertaining. If I actually owned it, it'd probably be the next one I'd loan to friends. Still not sure if I want to own it though; last I saw it was kind of overpriced, and while it's good, it isn't quite there for me yet.

I was trying to work on a post earlier, "The problem with Production I.G.", because I've been watching "Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex" season 2. And a couple of other things I've forgotten by now. Oh well, I'm sure I'll figure that one out some day...


nae said...

Thank you for a fair final evaluation of RG. I'm tired of reading criticism about it on the 'net. For me, the acting and the character moments are the whole point of the show, and woe if one must compare it to Western movies just because it makes a good attempt at a foreign setting. (Eh. Sorry. Bitter.)

Fellini 8.5 said...

Well, I've taken to not reading too much of what most other anime fans think, asides from our merry band on the 'Fan, and a handful of others. I've already got my snobbery on many subjects. :)

Anonymous said...

Aw. I thought that Red Garden was going to be the standard 26 episodes. I was looking forward to being able to see 6 more episodes (I'm on the 20th at the moment).

I like your analysis of the stronger aspects of the show, and I completely agree. I pretty much knew from the time I finished the first episode that I'd love the show, as its edgy, decadent nature is really right up my alley. I'm dreading finishing this series, but I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the last few episodes!