Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A rounder roundup

Subject: Noir
First a bit of an aside; my referrer stats tell me that, yet again, I must have pissed in somebody's unique and special cornflakes with my previous roundup snark about "Divergence Eve". *shrug* But, I suppose I should clear it up for the record: I said I actually did (albiet barely) make it through one episode, making an earnest 2nd attempt after aborting my first attempt early. And I said I specifically wanted to try it because of recommendations I read; I don't waste my time to go out of my way to find a show just to dis' it. But if I find something I don't like, I enjoy having a little fun snarking about it. *grin*

My perspective, "ungrounded" as it may be, is that of a cranky old film-geek snob non-fan who discovered late in life that there's actually anime out there that I enjoy. The qualities I'm looking for are rather divergent (hee hee) from what most "real" fans are looking for. Call it a western bias, call it cluelessness, whatever. What attracts me, attracts me. What repels me, repels me. Sometimes, based on reviews I read or recommendations from readers, I'll give something a chance to surprise me, because there are numerous shows that contain elements that I would otherwise find irritating, but make up for it with other qualities.

"Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars" was one of those. I finished up the last disc finally, and it's kind of surprising how many of my usual "negatives" are present in it -- the excruciating minutae of the Japanese schoolroom (and awkward schoolkid romance), the often blank & limited pallete of gestures and expressions, the overall "moving-manga" presentation. But, in those "limited" expressions, there was still a little spark of life and interest to the characters that gave them a bit of soul. There were little twists in the narrative outside of the schoolroom that grabbed my curioustity. The action sequences were well animated, and the overall timing, even in the more static shots, was spot-on. So, ultimately I was entertained by it -- though I admittedly fast-forwarded through a wee bit of the schoolroom stuff early on. But then I'd miss a twist and have to go back, so I got more patient with it as time went on.

Also added to my "finished-up" list is "009-1". What a hoot that show is! It digs up all kinds of dark cold-war-era tropes and paints them in a retro-mod pallete and a bit of sarcastic self-awareness and puts 'em out there with no apologies. It's a charming style piece with interesting, almost touching little stories which are surpisingly dark considering the campiness of the concept. I think I'm going to make this one a "buy", though I'm not going to get a lot of rewatch value out of it. But I'm looking for unique and stand-out work, and this is worth rewarding for that fact alone.

Speaking of unique and stand-out, "Dennou Coil" at episode 19 turns into a tense bit of supernatural thriller, as the girls are trapped in the house by ghostly zombie-like "illegals" from "the other side" who have just kidnapped the cyber-conciousness of the little sister. It's a brilliantly crafted episode, with just a little edge of humour, and a lot of payoff because of the amount life and soul breathed into the characters by the animators since scene 1 of episode 1 make it nearly impossible not to be carried along by their anxiety and emotion. And far and away this cements it as the Best Show of 2007 for me, which only goes to prove once again that excellent production qualities can overcome my irritation with "typical schoolkid" shows.

Finally, I've dipped back into the old-skool again and rented the first disc of the first "Mobile Suit Gundam" series from 1979 or thereabouts. I was slightly dissappointed that it was dub-only, but the era and style were much like my nostalgic teenage memories of "RoboTech", so I got over that quickly. Well, mostly, as I think the dub probably interfered with my suspension-of-disbelief mechanism and blocked me from getting too deep into the characters. Not a big deal, because like I said, the nostalgia, along with my appreciation of the old-skool production techniques were enough to carry me through. I'll probably keep working my way through this first one before I start peeking around looking through the rest of the insanely huge "Gundam" franchise for more options -- a task that I figure could keep me busy for years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been reading Chizumatic for years, before it even focused on anime and was political in nature. To see a connection between your blog and it now seems very odd to me for some reason. It's a small Internets.