Saturday, November 27, 2010

Legend of the Galactic Time Suck (and more)

I've in the latter half of my 2 weeks of "use it or lose it" vacation, and instead of doing something smart and adventurous like a road trip to a sunny southern clime, I've been unproductively frittering around the house. With the exception of my usual Thanksgiving turkey-plus-MST3K ritual, I can't say I've accomplished anything other than catching up on a few (hundred) hours of anime.

I had actually started Legend of the Galactic Heroes about a month or so back, watching a couple here and there. It's a lot of stiffly animated foofy-haired guys talking a lot and flying around in space for over a hundred episodes (plus prequels and sequels that I'm in the middle of now).

And it's really, really addicting.

It's a modestly epic-like space opera, with gigantic fleet battles that last for five episodes, countered with geo-political machichinations in all their minutae. Political Philosophy 101 balanced with Intro to Sun-Tzu with a smattering of chess and poker for good luck. There are more admirials and generals than planets and battlezones. And the dozen or so main and secondary characters pretty much stick to their archetype throughout.

...And I'd say the the most addictive bits are split between the characters -- which we learn a little more and become a little more attached to, flashback by flashback -- to the detailed manouverings and tactical illustrations of ridiculously huge space battles involving tens of thousands of ships facing off in formation and blasting the bejeebus out of each other. Most everything else is pretty simplistic, though nearly always serves to propel the characters forward in whatever path they can forge, after explaining in detail the ramifications 4 or 5 moves ahead in the game for the path they choose.

Throw in a couple of "surprises" (they're more surprising if you just go along for the ride and try not to think too much), and I found myself really wanting to know what happened next. At least through the primary 110 episodes -- the "Gaiden" prequel is a bit of a step back in scale and isn't as interesting beyond some minor backstory fillers.

Of course, that hasn't entirely dominated my time. Panty & Stocking continues to be quite funny, if rather gross and simplistic. It's really just a bunch of "animators on a toot*" with a melange of homage and button-pushing, and just overall fun and experimentation. It makes it difficult for most anyone to watch objectively -- ya either love what their doing, or ya find it some combination of gross, lame, weak, messy, derivative, etc. I'm enjoying it though.

On the flip side, though still comic and silly, is the endearlingly charming Kuragehime, aka Jellyfish Princess on Hulu. A household of 20-something grrl-nerds get their lives shaken loose by a fashionably-flamboyant young transvestite (that last bit remaining hidden to all but the main character, because it's a "no men allowed" apartment). Then hijinks ensue, go figure. It's loaded with the usual cartoony deformation/overreaction and whatnot that generally annoy me, but it's made up for by an earnestness that I really like. Best part is in the OP -- after a funny Star Wars sequence, there's a couple-of-second bit from Signing in the Rain that just pops off the screen with human expressiveness that is remarkably different from most of the body-language shorthand that anime uses most of the time. Delightful.

Finally, I got the bluray sets for Xam'd: Lost Memories, and that's reaffirmed it's place in my top 10... and maybe my top 5. I'll have to re-evaluate long-unwatched titles to see before I decide... (I wonder if I have any pasta in the house?)

(* from the Italian Futurists self-descriptive quote, "artillerymen on a toot")

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