Sunday, December 23, 2007

The last Roundup

Subject: Noir
...well, for 2007 at least. As much as I'd like to try and break away from the "roundup" form of blogging and start digging deeper into individual shows like I used to to more often, it's going to be a while before I can shake loose the cobwebs in my creative centers and get back into that groove.

I wanted to give "Dennou Coil" a full bit of praise on it's own, but by this point, everyone else has also seen the end and has blogged more or less the similar sorts of impressions that I had. I watched it using the downloaded soft-subs, but I want to give it another go with the fansub group's more complete version (with the signage & text translations and whatnot). Also, because things happened so fast, and there was so much expositionary dialogue going on, I may have likely missed a bit of the visuals here and there while busily trying to keep up with reading it. And vice-versa sometimes.

Plus, it's such a good, well produced story, I want to watch it again.

Even better would be seeing this licensed and in DVD form so I can share it with friends someday. But it seems the shows I like lately aren't high on any R1 company's list right now.

One exception I didn't realize about (because I hadn't paid any attention to it) was "Tengo Toppa Gurren Lagan", which ADV apparently had for a while now. I had already dug up the whole series after sampling a few episodes -- based on favorable mentions over on KT's blog and in the AniPages forum, and I got swept up in the energy and likeability of the characters. There's quite a lot of typical cliche fighting-robot weirdness that I would normally find either lame or cringe-worthy, but all told, it seemed like everyone involved was having such fun making the show, and making fun of all that lame cringe-worthy stuff, that I was hooked. Plus, a lot of the action animation, and the overall artwork, was lively and interesting and quite well done.

It hit all kinds of great mood notes, and had a great sense of scale and detail -- though by the end when the scale of things was so over-the-top and supposedly ridiculously huge, I don't think it quite pulled that off. It was fun, and you were rooting for everyone, but once things got "moon-sized", you really didn't get that kind of sense of huge-ness anymore, which it did a lot better early on. Also, I figure a lot of the "in-jokes" probably went totally over my head, but I could appreciate the details for what they were anyhow.

Anyway, for those of us in the US, ADV is experimenting with streaming it, subtitled, on their website, to try and fill the gap between the Japanese airing and their DVD/TV release. Since I did a no-no and downloaded the whole thing, I kind of want to support that experiment at least a little. But I find the lack of ability to watch it full-screen, plus the clunky low bitrate encoding messing with some of the better-animated action bits, and I'm not sure I'll keep that up. A shame.

I finally managed to dig up the finale for "Romeo X Juliet" a while back; for some reason it never showed up on my usual sources. Waaay back at the beginning, I had said that I sure hoped they didn't wimp out on the tradgedy factor of the original story, and thankfully (without spoiling anything), they most certainly didn't. But it was really quite clever how they were able to do it totally differently, yet still do it a bit of justice, as over-the-top melodramatic as it was. I think it was a suitably entertaining and thoughtful ending and I'm not disappointed. Strange how I wound up attached to the show, but I liked that it was different and a little bit creative in it's retelling, and that overall there was a good spark to the characters that got me through the rougher patches in the story.

As far as the current season goes, I'm pretty much only following "Ghost Hound", and only just sort of. I'm not that thrilled with the animation, but the overall design and art is reasonable enough. The story isn't as gripping as it wants to be, and it's almost borderline lame, but there's just enough of a little twist to it, and little bits of surprise reveal, that it makes me curious as to what's next. I also like how the soundtrack is mostly ambient sound, and I'd bet it'd great if I were able to watch it in 5.1 surround. But overall I'm not entirely enthused by it, and if it loses me, then I won't be disappointed.

"Future Police: Urashimon" is a much more, uh, challenging watch. Yeah, it's old-skool Mashimo-directed zaniness, but it's also old-skool Mashimo-directed inane-ness. It hasn't aged all that well. And it hasn't yet taken on any characteristics that would bring me deeper into it, and I'm not sure it will, despite the possible hints for it. It's mainly just a low-brow, mostly-harmless, 80's cliche comedy, with the occasional glimpse of the early Hand Of Mashimo. It's no "Captain Tylor", for sure. Or "Tank Police". Or "Dirty Pair".

To wrap up, I also rented an old OVA/movie called "Darkside Blues". It didn't start off in a particularly appealing manner for my mood, but I stuck through it. There wound up being a couple of enjoyable characters that helped with the matter, but there was nothing particularly outstanding there. It had all the typical elements of an old-skool dystopian sci-fi drama, right down to the "start the story in the middle, end the story in the middle" kind of meandering with no real conclusion. You're just witnessing one little snapshot in time in a bigger story. Which is fine, but ultimately with this one, it wasn't particularly rewarding. And by the end, even though it was still early, I found myself extra-sleepy and wound up turning in early instead of offsetting it with a more lively selection off my DVD shelf. Ah well.

No comments: