Friday, May 11, 2007

Washout of a season

Subject: Noir
Actually, I don't mean the weather; unlike a lot of the country, it's been rather dry and cool-to-temperate around here. Though I have been under the weather, as it were. A nasty headcold/sinus infection went around the office and knocked me out for a good chunk of this past week.

Add that with nothing particularly inspirational to write about, and, well, there you go.

Here's a round-up of the anime I've sampled, and whether I'm continuing or dropping them:

"Bokurano" -- So far, with only one episode, though it seems like a serious dramatic story with the potential for interesting writing, it also seems like it will be a depressing drag, with too many unlikable characters (not to mention a lack of likeable ones) and no real breakthrough in technique or cinematics to keep me interested. Dropping for now.

"Claymore" -- I guess I'm kind of desperate for a serious action series, but I'm not this desperate. A bunch of souless-eyed characters and stiff, lifeless animation only serve to render the gratuitious gore and wooden presence all the more lame. Dropped after about 10 minutes.

"Return to Terra" -- I was hoping that some of the old-skool look I saw in some misc screenshots would mean this would be a good homage of, well, old-skool, but the eyes on the characters are truly awful with their lifeless "moe-esque" sparkle and the performances and animation quality were rather sub par. Dropped after about 10 minutes.

"Agent AIKa R-16" OVA -- This is a prequel to the borderline-hentai predecessor to "Najica Blitz Tactics", "Agent Aika". Both the original, a part of "Najica", and this OVA were all written by Kenichi Kanemaki. Who is writing (and, perhaps, ruining?) "El Cazador". "Najica" was a hoot and a lot of fun, "Aika" was kind of wierd-but-amusingly-trashy. This OVA is just plain trash, though. Dumb. Being clichéd is one thing, but not doing anything fun with it is worthless. Dropped.

"Sisters of Wellber" -- I dunno. It seemed like the characters have a little potential, and it looks like it will be an "on-the-run" action show, and there doesn't seem to be any particular "rules" to that universe (the genres are all thrown together in a box, shaken up, and dumped into the script, it would seem). But then there's this stupid little boisterous 3D CGI "talking tank" (no, really) that shows up, and the "dumb" of it just overwhelmed everything. And there wasn't a lot to make up for it in the animation and design otherwise. I dunno. I might give it another episode or two later, but I think I'm on hold for now.

"Darker Than Black" -- the previews for this made me think it was going to be a serious, grownup action-drama-mystery show, but it's kind of missing the mark. I can't remember if I've complained about it endlessly talking about plotpoints instead of letting the universe coalesce more organically. And the few bright spots of animation that I saw in the trailer turn out to be few and far between. I've gotten through episode 3, but I think I'm going to leave it on hold for a while.

"Murder Princess" OVA -- This is Yet Another Bee Train series, this time in OVA form. Mashimo is pretty much just a producer on this one, with a new director and very little creative-team crossover from the usual Bee Train staff. One point of interest is that a writer for "Master Keaton" and "Monster" is doing the screenplay. Still, I don't know if that's quite enough. The higher framerate and higher attention to animation details also aren't quite enough. While it's better quality than the shows above, it falls kind of flat for me in the "hold my interest" department. The characters don't escape from "that's kind of cool, in theory" into the "I care about what's happening" realm. I'll probably keep watching them (there's not many episodes) just because it's Bee Train. But that's about it.

...Yikes! No wonder I've been in such a lousy mood... Well, here's a couple of the "bright spots":

"Romeo x Juliet" -- Okay, I'm just a big, dumb softie. Everything about this show should be making me roll my eyes in mock annoyance, but it just goes to show that a little effort in animating a little life into the lead characters goes a long way. Or maybe I'm just kind of desperate for something remotely interesting. Or maybe my expectations were kind of low and it was easy to meet and exceed them. Whatever. It's still entertaining.

I've already mentioned that it's now going to be my regular Sunday morning show along with the second season of "Emma", which I'm also keeping in my queue for the season. But there hasn't been any new fansub releases recently, so I'll just watch them on whatever Sundays I happen to get a new one.

Finally, not really a new series, but in fact a really old one -- Koichi Mashimo's "Eat Man" series from the '90s has made it's way to a new fansub release. This one has been MIA over here in the US for years, only garnering a VHS release back in the day. I don't know the particulars on how it came to be subbed, but I'm thrilled that it is!

And, oh man, is it strange. Still, having watched a lot of the earlier Mashimo work like the "Dirty Pair" OVA, "Captain Tylor", and "Sorcerer Hunters", all the classic Mashimo techniques are there. Only this time it has a slightly surreal edge. I'm only up to episode 2, but watching it puts a grin on my face at just how nuts the technique is. Absolutely classic. The series was re-done as "Eat-Man '98" by an entirely different team because of the alleged dissatisfaction of the fans of the manga that it was based on. In that, Mashimo more or less discarded the manga and did the whole thing his way. Or so the legend goes. Bravo for that!

That's about it. Yes, I'm also on top of "El Cazador" as well, but I'll save that for another post.


Nick Istre said...

Did you get to see Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)? It's been getting a bit of a buzz in the anime blog world, though it didn't get a whole lot of marketing behind it. I do have to say the movie was exceptional. Better than Satoshi Kon's Paprika, in my opinion (You can get Kon's movie if you look hard enough, but I still want to see that one in theaters).

Fellini 8.5 said...

Ah, that's the one I keep forgetting the name of when I go looking, because I remember seeing good things about it. I was hoping it would be on DVD, but I can't seem to find it anywhere.

That and Paprika and 5 Centimeters I want to see legit (non fansub) because I think they'd be better served in a top-notch format; theatre or hometheater, whichever. Kind of the way I think about Miyazaki.

A strange line I draw there, but go figure.