Saturday, April 28, 2007

Finishing up a couple

Subject: Noir
Last week I finished up the discs for "Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2". A lot of title, and a lot of f'in' talking. Which is really just the trademark of the franchise, I suppose. Just like that '80s band "Talk Talk" says, "All you do is talk-talk"...

I mean really, I go off about anime shortcuts, and here's a series that can do minutes of dialouge on end without a single character's lips moving, because they all communicate with each other over an invisible wireless network. Sure, there's some good drama and excellent action sequences, but sheesh! There are whole stretches where you wish they would just do something!

The last two discs did manage to kick ass and take names (lots of names), and it was pretty obvious early on the connection between Major-babe and the Charismatic Rebel Dude, and the politics behind the scenes (with the "American Empire") were very similar to an idea I had back around 1993, so that was interesting. In fact, the fact that this show is a lot more grown-up than most every other show was a big plus for me. I especially liked the episode where Batou is in Berlin up on top of a statue -- I said "Hey, just like 'Wings of Desire'", and guess what the episode title was...! It's not many anime series that reference a quality German art film like that. Still, there's some silly moments (probably not all that intentional) that kind of take me out of it a bit, and the overall stiffness at the expense of the narrative density is probably the overall negative about the show.

On a totally different note, I just finished up "Last Exile". I watched it a couple of years ago in a crappy TV resolution with the OK English dub; this time I rented the DVDs and watched it in subtitled Japanese. Which I liked a lot better.

The ending is very "feel-good", albiet a bit "WTF". The whole story reaches for a grand epic scale, and rightly acheives it. I really do love the imagination and uniqueness of the story, and the imagery and scope of detail are very transporting to the point of forgiving some of the weaker plot machinations. Of which there were very few, because overall the story was rather simple and effective and adequately cast against the scale of the universe it was set in. The characters were all particularly enjoyable despite the occasion lapse into cliche, probably because the environment was so novel that something familiar was welcome and appreciated. Plus they were well performed, at least in the animation, such that you could really bring yourself into their world and their feelings without too much effort to suspend disbelief on their behalf.

There are some technique-related blahs to be found (most notably the low-resolution digital line-art and sometimes-clunky 3-D integration), but it was in a lot of ways a grand experiment in digital techniques and I think it did a stunning job through most of it. I don't expect a hi-def version would make much of a difference, but I am considering picking up the DVDs when I have the chance. I think my friends would find it to be an accessable and interesting story, and it's certainly charming enough to find a place on my anime shelf.

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